MORRISON DANCE & NASA PROPAGANDA

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 07/15/2006 - 12:53.

Morrison Nasa

MorrisonDance and NASA created a cosmic production for the May Company Stage at Ingenuity Festival.

 

One of my reactions to the performance was that the thematics and funding by NASA were too cozily in line.      I am not a dance critic of any knowledge or expertise.   I begin  my review of this experience, as I do most of my daily sensual and intellectual input,  ready to challenge the why in an editorial way.

 

We didn’t see a scene reminiscent of Christie McAuliff.  I  thought of the 30’s German government's glorification in cinema and sound of its scientific and military prowess. 

 

On the other hand,  the May Co stage is worth the price of admission – integrating the 4 foot topographical elevation difference – due to the street level difference between Prospect and Euclid - on the ground floor of the old May Company  as a natural for dividing the space into stage, seating and theater lighting and sound control booth space.  The exposed cast in place concrete columns and ribbed ceiling create a visually interesting peek-a-boo and very clear acoustics.

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This is another event I wish I saw... and the May Co. stage

Jeff, you certainly were the eyes of real NEO at Ingenuity - and great images! I'm just getting into dance so I don't know about any of the troops in town, and do want to know more. That is a good category for May Show, and something to put in the calendar.

But, I'm not a space exploration fan - to much to deal with here on Earth... not planning to  live on Mars. I'd love to see a video of this performance or a repeat some other time.

Someone should talk to Levin about doing mimi-Ingenuities around NEO each weekend all year long, and recording and broadcasting the performances - and we should see how to keep these cool venues in use... I'd especially like to see the May Co. Building fully restored and in productive operation on a human scale.... mixed use instead of server farm

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MILLER KNOWS DANCE COLD

Norm. Susan Miller is with dance like you are with internet.  She knows the local scene from her guts up.  We've got the virtual (your bag), we've got the painterly (May Show), we've got the mechanical (my bag), and so many  more domains of interest and understanding.  Let everyone else be everyone's mentor!

I look forward to learning more about dance

I have huge respect for dance and like to see it but I don't know anything about it or where to go, when... I guess I'm not on those mailing lists. But that's been one of the cool outcomes on realneo is folks like Susan who are knowledgable about things like dance, and want to help the community succeed with that, are stepping up and giving us focus on that and sharing their unique insight - I look forward to seeing more of that on a broad platform... I'll post about that later this evening

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funding by NASA?

Dear Jeff -

I find your "propoganda" description a bit perplexing, as there was not a penny exchanged between NASA and MorrisonDance.  In fact - we had to rely heavily on our individual support base to cover the costs of this production.  I suppose if my excitment about space travel is propoganda, then I could accept the description. 

Also - since you mention Christie McAuliffe, I thought I might add that throughout the process of creating this piece - I was a bit suprised how many people I talked to wanted to attach to the tragic moments of space flight.  While I think that we should never forget the tragedy of the Challenger, I truly believe that our "risk averse" society clings so tightly to fear that we often forget the beauty and unibelievable possibilities that human beings are capable of acheiving.

I have never considered myself a political artist, and I find myself in a quandry that your posting suggests that we are taking sides on some sort of issue.  I cannot help but feel personally offended by the comparison to German political propoganda activities ("them's fightin' words", Jeff).  If it is political to creatively express the intensity and magic of space travel - then I suppose I am being political - but I prefer to think of it as being inspired.

Sarah Morrison
Artistic Director
MorrisonDance

Thanks for the input on this Sarah - looks very cool

I thought Jeff's comment was confrontational and I'm glad you responded - and I wouldn't have seen anything wrong if you had gotten lots of money from NASA - I thought that was one of the ideas with Ingenuity - a collaboration between arts and technology. I'm sure Jeff will clarify his position on his comments himself, as I can't speak for him and missed the show.

But would love to see it in recording or an encore...  feel free to post anything upcoming here on the events calendar. In the mean time, I visited your Morrison Dance site and saw the link to the great photos Scott Radke took from your rehearsal and they look amazing - cool graphics and costumes and a major production. It was fun to go through your site as I remember Erie Sirens in particular. I tried to watch "Leaping into the net" but it didn't play... is it still availble and I'm just having a problem with my computer?

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The HIGHER TRUTH - refining our discussion

Dear Sarah,  It's midnight and I just picked up your comments and Norm's.  I'll be back to you tommorrow.  best jeff

MORRISON's RENDEZVOUS - WHERE ARE RUTAN AND RUSSIA

 

With the NASA booth contextually right next to your stage, and the prominent repeating NASA backlit photos as the stage backdrop/mood for your presentation, that context encouraged me to make the assumption that NASA had funded  (and at least helped provide images for  your production) this niche of Ingenuity Fest.  
If the ephemeral attitude of your choreography came from your personal passion re: space flight (and I believe not only you - but I have heard since the production from those that know you that you are keen on space), that voids any criticism that it is "propaganda" based on funding from the government agency which is exemplified in the piece. 
You write "If it is political to creatively express the intensity and magic of space travel - then I suppose I am being political".  In response to you I ask:
 Were there repeating images of Russian spacecraft blasting off too?  I don't remember seeing any.   Maybe only the space station docking images had the Russian counterpart module?    Perhaps a balance of space exploration images from Russia, China, India, France, and the USA - all of whom I think have taken a shot at it - would help move the piece from what I saw as USA propaganda - not so much space exploration passion - to celebrating what I agree is an inspiring human penchant for pushing exploration boundaries. 
My comments were sincere, as I know are yours, and it is this interchange which refines both our outlooks. 
Best,
Jeff

What about Italy?

Jeff - I have to admit - it is much easier to gain access to footage from NASA - since the Glenn facility is local, and they have been so cooperative and helpful in supporting arts projects for Ingenuity.  They have been very supportive through sharing resources (our dance company certainly could never have gotten a cherry-picker!), and I think that as a community we should be thankful that such an organization is open and willing to support collaborations with artists/groups, since so many are not.

Also - just a bit of background - the idea for the piece originally began when NASA gave footage of their STS-92 mission to Ingenuity, along with a quote from one of the astronauts:


“So, it's a kind of an interesting little ballet between the robotic arm operator, who has to get these two pieces close together, and then we have the Berthing Mechanism operator-which, for my flight, will be me-on a laptop computer driving these latches and bolts. And so, there's sort of a little ballet that goes back and forth to make sure that we do that all in the right order.”

NASA offered these delicious tid-bits of information to any artist who may take interest (and I certainly took a keen interest resulting in our proposal for the project to Ingenuity).  As the piece developed, I also had the opportunity to have a nice long inspiring discussion with the astronaut pilot for that mission (which was kindly arranged by NASA) - so I suppose it makes contextual sense to use the footage from that mission...besides which - since I am far more concerned with compensating our hard-working artists than spending money on global blast-off footage - why on earth would I use anything else, when I had everything I needed in my hands to get my artistic point across?

It's strange - I'm not sure if I can even pinpoint what it is about your statements that seem so confrontational to me, I suppose I don't mind if Rendezvous does promote NASA's space program.  I think it's a wonderful program.

It is interesting, though, that you should mention other countries involved, as I'm actually creating a small spin-off for a piece to be included in the Playhouse Square dance showcase in September, inspired by the Cupola built in Italy:

The Cupola:

 

The Cupola is a ESA-built observatory module of the International Space Station (ISS) that will provide astronauts with direct viewing for robotic operations and Space Shuttle payload bay viewing, as well as a spectacular observation point of earth.

Designed and built by Alenia from Italy, it is approximately 2 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters tall. It has six side windows and a top window, all of which are equipped with shutters to protect them from micrometeorite damage. When the Cupola was designed, it was intended that one of the two identical robotic workstations to control the Canadarm2 would be eventually mounted in the Cupola. The Cupola is designed to be attached to the Unity Module.

Description from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupola_(ISS)

The information on the Cupola was sent to me by one of our NASA collaborators after seeing the show - he said the geodome reminded him of it.  I saw the descriptions/pictures, and was inspired in a new direction - this interchange, to me, is truly exciting, and what art is all about - information exchange resulting in new ideas.

Since I don't speak Italian, and wouldn't know the first step to get into touch Alenia who created the Cupola, I will probably still rely on any resources that NASA may kindly provide - but mostly, Iwill rely on the geodome and - as always -  the tremendously creative individuals that I have the privelage to work with.

And...as a final question back to you, Jeff...do you have any idea how much time it would take to gather together footage from every country who has participated in space travel?  While I commend your desire and recommendation to recognize each and every contributor to space travel - it just does not seem like practical advice - besides, I rather doubt I have offended any nations by including only the footage provided by NASA.

But - if there are any other nations reading this posting, I would like to announce that I will HAPPILY consider the inclusion of any footage and editing services that you may be able to provide to our dance company (pro bono) for the future development of any space dances (or any other dances for that matter) that we may create!  We are an equal opportunity visual backdrop organization.

sm

Giant Step all nations space dance sounds awesome

Great story, Sarah, and hats... er helmets off to NASA Glenn. I've had good experiences with them - they hosted a group of my clients from around the world for a workshop there, and I knew a scientist from there who was very cool, althogh he flet they had lost mush of their research focus in the interest of commercialization. I also know an interesting story - a janitor there found scrap material that was used for heat shields in testing rocket engines - he took some home and cut engine gaskets out for drag racing (his hobby) and they blew away all other gaskets, and he started selling them, and that is the story of Mr. Gasket. I was also on a board with Scott Carpenter, who was very interesting... so I think NASA is cool - glad they helped Morrison Dance out.

And I think your idea of an all nations space dance is a great one and sounds like a challenge for REAL NEO. It shouldn't be too hard to list all the countries involved in space exploration at this time, as well as the companies that build the components - let's approach them to help you with a really big performance... you seem into it and you have great material to show them what to expect - I don't see why it would be so hard to get support from each, and you would probebly be the only group in the world doing this so you would be unique in the approach and market. I'll help make the outreach and you can post info and even your video and such on REALNEO or on the technology, actually - I'm sure we can get Ideacenter involved - tackle the universe and give the community something to help you on - it will be good promotion for Ingenuity 2007 too, so those folks should help... sound like a logical next small step for woman, giant step for dance!

Who do we need to contact? Italy, and...

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NASA latest victim of rapturenomics

An article in the NYTimes today highlights the problems at NASA I've heard voiced by scientists there since Bush came into office - NASA is controlled by the President, and Bush is not a scientist nor does he care about Earth... he's into Heaven. From the article, posted below, "Dr. Hansen said the change might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming. “They’re making it clear that they have the authority to make this change, that the president sets the objectives for NASA, and that they prefer that NASA work on something that’s not causing them a problem,” he said."  So we have Bush rewriting NASA'a mission and the world suffers more ahead, as Bush subjects it to the increasingly warm glow of his rapturenomics:

NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: July 22, 2006

From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.”

In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted. In this year’s budget and planning documents, the agency’s mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

David E. Steitz, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the aim was to square the statement with President Bush’s goal of pursuing human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

But the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the “understand and protect” phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

“We refer to the mission statement in all our research proposals that go out for peer review, whenever we have strategy meetings,” said Philip B. Russell, a 25-year NASA veteran who is an atmospheric chemist at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “As civil servants, we’re paid to carry out NASA’s mission. When there was that very easy-to-understand statement that our job is to protect the planet, that made it much easier to justify this kind of work.”

Several NASA researchers said they were upset that the change was made at NASA headquarters without consulting the agency’s 19,000 employees or informing them ahead of time.

Though the “understand and protect” phrase was deleted in February, when the Bush administration submitted budget and planning documents to Congress, its absence has only recently registered with NASA employees.

Mr. Steitz, the NASA spokesman, said the agency might have to improve internal communications, but he defended the way the change was made, saying it reflected the management style of Michael D. Griffin, the administrator at the agency.

“Strategic planning comes from headquarters down,” he said, and added, “I don’t think there was any mal-intent or idea of exclusion.”

The line about protecting the earth was added to the mission statement in 2002 under Sean O’Keefe, the first NASA administrator appointed by President Bush, and was drafted in an open process with scientists and employees across the agency.

In the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the agency in 1958, the first objective of the agency was listed as “the expansion of human knowledge of the earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.”

And since 1972, when NASA launched the first Landsat satellite to track changes on the earth’s surface, the agency has been increasingly involved in monitoring the environment and as a result has been immersed in political disputes over environmental policy and spending, said W. Henry Lambright, a professor of public administration and political science at Syracuse University who has studied the trend.

The shift in language echoes a shift in the agency’s budgets toward space projects and away from earth missions, a shift that began in 2004, the year Mr. Bush announced his vision of human missions to the Moon and beyond.

The “understand and protect” phrase was cited repeatedly by James E. Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA who said publicly last winter that he was being threatened by political appointees for speaking out about the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Hansen’s comments started a flurry of news media coverage in late January; on Feb. 3, Mr. Griffin issued a statement of “scientific openness.”

The revised mission statement was released with the agency’s proposed 2007 budget on Feb. 6. But Mr. Steitz said Dr. Hansen’s use of the phrase and its subsequent disappearance from the mission statement was “pure coincidence.”

Dr. Hansen, who directs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, a NASA office, has been criticized by industry-backed groups and Republican officials for associating with environmental campaigners and his endorsement of Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

Dr. Hansen said the change might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming.

“They’re making it clear that they have the authority to make this change, that the president sets the objectives for NASA, and that they prefer that NASA work on something that’s not causing them a problem,” he said.

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Morrison Dance Offered Real Arts-Science Collaboration

I'd like to add a bit of perspective as I think the discussion is really losing track of some important fundamental points. One of the essential features of Ingenuity is that arts and technology are both inherently creative activities of potentially extraordinary breadth. By combining the arts and sciences, something truly new and different can be presented for public enjoyment. Morrison Dance embraced that challenge, more enthusiastically and effectively then most other performances. Just as Morrison Dance has been leading in the arts (last year, they joined leaders in medical imaging to track dancers' brain waves during a performance), NASA is a national leader in science activity for NE Ohio. Audiences should ask questions about the arts and sciences collaboration and the message, but the effort to produce a collaborative product is a terrific artistic exercise and, in this case, offered something new for audiences. Morrison Dance was able to create a terrific merger with video, music and dance, including the amazing back lit upside down dance from the crane. NASA and Morrison Dance deserve tremendous credit for their creative collaboration, which offered great visual and stage appeal. With tremendous presentations all week-end long, Ingenuity offered a lot to see and admire. I was pleased to contribute to the first Ingenuity Festival and, while difficult to choose, I thought the work of Morrison Dance was among the best I saw all week-end.

What I know about dance I learned on REALNEO

I'm proud to say I'm starting to appreciate dance because I'm suddenly interacting with people who love that. Interaction. Action. Life. That is very exciting to me. I visited a site in England that Susan Miller pointed me to as a dance of the day and I visited Morrison Dance because Jeff challenged the director of that company, and I saw a connection between what I saw in England and at Morrison, and I saw people who love dance interact with Jeff about something I didn't experience, and experienced dance from their experiences, both from creator and from many audience viewpoints. I've learned getting coffee is dance, and I am a dancer, and I will appreciate the movement of others more as we dance through life, on stage, space and cyberspace. It is nice to have guides in life.

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Norm you're not alone

Where are they? This is the reach of the folks visiting the open source videodance site in the UK I posted to which you refer. The comment posted to this map was "what is going on in Korea then?"

Geographical spread of traffic to the videodance.org.uk website over 4 weeks mid May to mid June 2006. 

You put Cleveland on this map

That is fascinating, and it seems there is a little blip for Cleveland, which is probably you and whatever REALNEO readers followed your good advice and checked out the dance of the day. The Internet is so cool - and this map shows how cut off is Africa by the digital divide!

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