The above video features footage created during a 4 month research and development residency at Dance House from Sept to Dec 2011. During the residency, Ashley Dyer worked with Matthew Kneale, Sam Pettigrew, Tony Osborne and Travis Hodgson to investigate how smoke, and its motion, can be used as a material in the creation of installations, kinetic sculptures, automated musical instruments, performance images and dance.
In particular they examined the following three questions;
1) What are some interesting ways an audience might experience and be made aware of the beauty of gases in motion visually, sonically and/or immersively?
2) What actions, movements or physical states might a solo dancer engage in to add to or take away from an audience's experience of smoke?
3) What possible content and overarching ritual for the audience might be suggested by the form of a dancer and smoke?
The results led to the creation of the following works and ideas that will be further developed and finished over the coming year. (Many, but not all, can be seen in the above video.) Ultimately, each work is intended to have the capacity of being presented individually and independently, and also together in the form of a live performance.
1) AUTOMATED SMOKE VOLCANO INSTRUMENT
Description: We used a Motu Ultra lite, Ableton Live, pipes a smoke machine and smoke ring cannons to create a musical smoke instrument. It uses sampled sounds and speaker cones to push smoke out of the containers in rings and other simple patterns. It can be played live using a keyboard and/or is fully automatable using a sequencer.
Future development: At the moment we have a maximum capacity of 10 outputs, but, depending on hardware, there
is no reason why we couldn't have more. The work is capable of being presented in gallery or new and hand made music contexts. It will ultimately feature in combination with some of the other works too.
Description: Using piping and home made low lieing foggers we created an installation that makes smoke fall in a way that looks simlilar to a waterfall.
Future Development: The smokerfall is ready to be presented as an installation, but will also be developed so that smoke could run down down the walls of a theatre or small room.
3) SMOKE BUBBLE KINETIC SCULPTURE
Description: Using large scale bubble making machines, smoke machines and fans we capture smoke in bubbles and float them into a space only to explode leaving a visible cloud of smoke.
Future Development: In the next stage development we will work with mechanical and chemical engineers to design a machine, and bubble solution compound that is capable creating very large scale smoke bubbles. As a perfromance image the work needs more investigation with Tony or an audience in a space.
4) SMOKE PROJECTION LABRYNTH
By using basic shapes, VJing software, a projector and smoke machines we created the illusion of tunnels and walls of smoke that can both appear out of nothing, transform and disappear.
Future Development: In the next stage we intend to use multiple projectors and motion sensing hardware or software to create a series of appearing and disappearing tunnels that the audience navigates and triggers by walking through a space. Once an audience member arrives at the end of one tunnel of light another tunnel of light will appear and the existing one will vanish.
5) SMOKE RING CANNONS
Description: Using simple science and objects we created a series of cannons that are operated mannually and can shoot smoke rings of different sizes. The cannons are operated manually. The largest cannon is made of an olive barrel. It is on wheels and attached to a frame that allows us to change the angle we shoot the rings into the space.
Future Development: We intend on building an even larger cannon to ideally create rings that can be literally jumped through. The smoke ring cannons may also be developed into a duration performance in a gallery space with 3 ring shooters and up to 4 dancers.
For more smoke rings imagery see
5) AUTOMATED LARGE SMOKE PAN PIPE
Description: Using the smoke machines, piping cut at different lengths that correspond to different pitched notes we can create a pan pipe with the smoke machines.
Future Development: The wind instrument is simple enough, but the next stage will involve designing a shape that has smoke emitted from the pipes in ways that are interesting to look at as well as listen to.
6) GAS CHAMBERS
Description: Using both hot and cold smoke we developed a number of ideas and structures that contain smoke. These included a human sized cage and a pond. We also captured smoke in various containers including plastic bags. Expelling the smoke from these containers was often as interesting as filling them.
Future Development: Ultimately, in a performance we are interested in exploring the idea that the audience might have agency in filling a cage with smoke. We have a number of ideas for how to do this. We also are intersted in creating a split space where cold smoke is contained in a pond at the bottom, and hot smoke is contained in a similar shaped space above the pond. In between the two spaces there is no smoke. We would like to play with projecting onto these surfaces.
7) SMOKE COSTUME
Description: Using a TINY FX fogger (9cm x 4cm x 3cm) we would build a piped suit that could smoke.
Future Development: The TINY FX fogger is extremely pricey, so we need to hire one to test out possibilities.
8) USING DYSON AIR MULTIPLIERS & VENTURI AIR EXTRACTORS
Description: In the next stage will will continue to look into working with high powered fans that could potentially clear a space of smoke in a short period of time. We currently have two dyson air multipliers.
9) LOOSE ENDS
Description: In addition to the above there are still other ideas that we'd like to explore in more detail, including the cooking coloured smoke bombs (and creating coloured smoke ring cannon) and working with other substances like dry ice and liquid nitrogen.
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