Dance News Australia

So you think architects can dance?

Is it possible to conceive of the human body as a machine for making space?
Dr Sam Spurr of the University of Technology, Sydney’s School of Architecture wonders what would happen if we tried. In the next exhibition at the UTS DAB Lab research gallery, ‘Diagramming the Body Geometric or So you think you can Dance?’, Sam explores ideas of the body as a machine for spatial transformation.

“If you start with something in motion, you end up embedding that motion into the architecture itself, rather than starting with a static body in order to design yet another static thing,” she says. “Bringing dance notations, for example, into the architectural drawing may be one way of bringing movement into architecture.”

Sam’s DAB Lab experiment will be an installation based on a re-enactment of a classic 80’s dance performance. From there she will create notations of that performance, architectural drawings based on that notation, and models of those drawings. The installation itself will become part of a final iteration of the project. “Each idea is translated again and again into the different media, so the outcome may be quite removed from the original dance movement,” says Sam.

Sam has pursued the relationship between dance and architecture through her doctorate and a recent international symposium titled SEAM 2009: Spatial Phrases. Teaching at UTS, her students have designed buildings based on the movement of Michael Jackson moonwalk, or John Cleese’s silly walks. As Sam says, “it exposes the design process as based on innovative translations, the initial starting point of a design can be totally arbitrary, it’s what you do with it that matters.”

‘Diagramming the Body Geometric or So you think you can Dance?’ is a further continuation of Sam’s research that seeks to link body movement with architecture. It opens at DAB Lab, Level 4 Courtyard, UTS: Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, 702-730 Harris Street, Ultimo at 6pm, Wednesday 4 November, and runs until 7 December.

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