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In light of UC Irvine’s “Illuminations,” a recent Arts & Culture Initiative enacted by the Chancellor, creative art projects have been showcased across the UCI campus in order to promote meaningful exposure to the creative arts at UCI.

This past week, Professor John Crawford exhibited his “Music in Motion” video booth, an interactive dance project held in collaboration with The Pacific Symphony with contributions from faculty and students within the UCI Dance, Music and Drama departments.

Outside of the Crystal Cove Lobby in the UCI Student Center, a montage of moving bodies, colored and generated by varying visual effects, first appeared on a screen. The recorded sequences then played back to music clips, creating a collection of participant-created art sequences.

Professor Crawford’s interest in human-computer interactions has inspired “Music in Motion,” which is part of his Active Space concept — an intermedia performance system he originated in 1994. Through real-world performative environments, such as his “Music in Motion” video booth, he investigates embodied interaction through computers and video in order to create motion graphics for dance, music and theatre.

“Music in Motion” uses screendance, which is Crawford’s concept of creating responsive art pieces through capturing human movement.

Upon entering the booth, users choose from a selection of music clips. They then dance to the accompanying musical score towards a screen that records and transforms their movements into a variety of intriguing and evocative visual effects. While in use, the users grow inspired and respond to the music and interesting visuals they see onscreen.

These sequences are stored into the “Music in Motion” live online community, which contribute to its growing public art exhibit. Users have the option to share these pieces through online sharing, which allows these pieces to be contributed to an online presence.

Julia Reinhard Lupton, director of “Illuminations,” is particularly excited for the projects showcased within the initiative.

She writes that the UC motto, “Fiat lux,” translating to “Let there be light,” has inspired the name for “Illuminations.”

“Illumination, like enlightenment, emphasizes the university’s dedication to the pursuit of truth and knowledge,” Lupton writes in a statement, “but (it) highlights the affective and ethical side of that search.”

On display, two UCI dance graduates, who chose a classical music score to dance to, are using the “Music in Motion” booth. Through the lens of the camera within the booth, one dancer displays an open palm on the screen. The second dancer allows her head to be pulled up by the palm and the two engage in a rhythmic, fluid dance sequence, inspired by the music within the booth.

The visual effects displayed on-screen were reminiscent of a thermal camera, which captured the bodies and movements of the users through heat. Users were free to dance or simply move along within the booth and have their sequences played back to them.

Crawford hopes this public art installation can create a community of artistic music and dance videos in order to create a public art exhibit.

Along with celebrating the diverse talent and human creativity existing on-campus, “Music in Motion” is just one way people are free to explore new forms of  self-expression, while also building  a sense of community.

Through people’s engagement with the interactive booth, each user is free to create their own art piece, contributing to a larger work of art that provides meaningful engagement with ourselves as human beings through creative media, which is one of the goals of the entire “Illuminations” initiative.

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