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Video: "Versus" Pushes Performance Art Forward With Kinect

When Microsoft was first hyping up the Kinect, they told us it would push the boundaries of what games could do. They said our bodies would become the controller, and that doors would be opened which we didn't know had been closed.

Even with enough marketing muscle to employ the Cirque du Soleil, however, Microsoft had no idea what their little infrared device was capable of. Or at least, it stands to reason that if they had any idea on how to monetize a realtime dancing-capture device and charge extra for performances, they would have.

Instead, what you see above looks to be inspired almost entirely by the free Kinect hacks that came after independent programmers got hold of the device's input. The artist/coder duo of 1n0ut have fashioned an entire production based on wireframes and 3D image data of a dancer, which poses questions about the nature of art and how much of it can be digitized.

A real performer meets her virtual counterpart, both learn from each other and adapt, dance with or fight against each other. A performative experiment, that explores boundaries and possibilities in the struggle between individual and the virtual, man and machine. Artistic and scientific positions in the fields of digital performance and artificial life are being explored.
Quite the lofty presser, but also not off the mark. So far, most of the Kinect hacks we've seen have triggered a 'Nifty!' response, in which just the fact that a gaming machine is involved is novelty enough to create interest. "Versus" is the first application of such--that I've seen, at least--that can be called a completed work, with the Kinect taking as much a role in the stage performance as any actor or musician might.

The teaser above only shows a few choices pieces from the full performance's debut, but it's enough to engage the imagination about Kinect's place in the realm of interactive art. We're already on the edge of our seats for the synesthetic bliss of Child of Eden, but it stands to reason that almost all art shows or museums could benefit from a similar blending of observer and performer.

Amid a somewhat sparse launch of mostly dance & fitness titles, the Kinect has yet to really find its footing in the games space. For this gamer's money, all they'd have to add incredible art pieces like the above is a leaderboard, and I'd be sold.

[via: KinectHacks]

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