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23 Sep 2019

Interview: In Conversation with Shira Shvadron

Shira Shvadron is a multi-disciplanry artist, who has recently worked on her project, “Movement in Capture” that expresses the environmental damage of waste in the ocean, using movement as a key tool to create empathy. Learn more about Shira and her project below:

Tell us a bit about your work and what you do:

My name is Shira Shvadron. I have just completed my BA in Visual Communication at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. During my degree, I specialized in Interaction design, Game Design, Video, Animation, Image making, and Sound.

Movement in Capture” is a project about the impact of pollution of the oceans on their living creatures. It presents the experience of marine creatures in the polluted oceans as I imagine it, alongside a personal statement. This project deals with the question of how do they move in an environment that is no longer natural, in which they are helpless and restricted in their movement.

At first, I recorded dancers using Motion Capture technology by Noitom. The dancers tried to identify with marine creatures through movement. Then, I implemented the recorded movement onto the 3D models I created, with the guiding question of “what can human movement evoke on top of unhuman forms?”

This project is based on two seminar works and further research I wrote under the theme of movement. The first seminar explored how dance and movement can inspire music and how dance can enhance the experience of music. The second seminar was reviewing how mankind tried to document and capture movement throughout history. Starting from cave paintings, Renaissance, 19th-20th-century dance notations and Muybridge photographs until this present day. I also reviewed the Motion Capture suit, which was used for this project.

At nights I’m DJing under the name Shiwa Biwa. Where I feel my background in dance and music plays a big part.

How do dance, design and art inform one another as disciplines? Do you tend to prioritize one over the other or does that change throughout your work?

My interest in dance, design, art and also music began at a very early age and hasn’t stopped since. I believe these practices made my visual work to always aspire to be dynamic and in movement. In my mind I tend to think about my works as immersive, so that’s why throughout the years I drifted into making 3D environments.

I see the “Movement in Capture” project as an integration of the creative outlets that I’ve been developing throughout my life. For me, making this project was sort of seeing these old illustrations I made in high school coming to life together with my younger self, dancing.

Practicing these disciplines from a young age was a starting point for me in every project I made. These very creative and expressive disciplines feel to me as if they’re not even separated.

The prioritization of one over the other happens in order to fit the needs of the concept to the project itself. I find great inspiration in these disciplines, that eventually can lead to unexpected connections and new insights.

Critics argue that technology makes it more difficult for us to access our emotions. How would you respond to that in the context of your project, Movement in Capture?

In this project “Movement in Capture” there’s an invitation to put movement in the front of the experience. An idea inspired by a recent study of the Neuroscience Institute of Trinity College in Dublin that found said that it is actually the movement of a human figure character that triggers feelings. Hence the movement itself is the element that creates a sense of empathy and connection more than the realistic graphic representation of humans.

The movement itself is so powerful that we don’t consider the technology as the main show, we understand the role of the motion capture technology as a tool for our bodies. It is a means for transferring a massage while using our physiques.

What was interesting in the process as well, was the playfulness the dancers found while using the suit. The dancers that I was recording at times would look at their avatar figure in the software dancing, functioning as a mirror. In that search of movement, it was really funny and intriguing to see that this avatar that copies their movement was encouraging them to explore the range of the Noitom suit even more, and to jump or crawl and see if and in what way the avatar is copying them.

Following the suit experience and also really enlightening discussions I had with the choreographs Ohad Fishof and Avshalom Pollak in the process of the project, I gathered that technology can be successful only when we understand how we, as active participants use it, and not let it abuse us. Technologies should be designed for us to make us move, and fit our natural needs.

 Your project highlights how movement is a key tool for human development. How do you think our movements will change over time? Do you think technology imposes limitations?

Yes, I will start by answering the second question and will finish by answering the first question. Technology is a general word and it depends on which aspect of technology you’re referring to.

If we’re looking into how technology has been intertwined into our lives through our mobile phones, yes it has made us addicts, our posture changed, the way we carry ourselves in the world has changed. We are crouched, crossing streets without even looking up and sideways. But on the other hand, we can talk about the virality of movement and dance through social media and especially through video platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

We can take for example the gesture “DAB”, according to Wikipedia, “Dab”/”Dabbing” is a gesture of triumph or playfulness. It is a gesture that started in the hip-hop scene in Atlanta (Some credit it to the anime in Japan) and became internationally viral. Coming out of the hip-hop music videos to the sports world and after that to the rest of the world of everyday people sharing their videos. Thanks to the cameras on our mobile phones and social media platforms it has become one of the viral moves of this decade.

Another interesting use of dance was in the gaming industry, a move I would consider very smart by the creators of the game “Fortnite”. Besides the fact that it became a phenomenon in the game industry as a game, the company utilized the power of movement and dance into another aspect of engaging with the game. Its characters dance contemporary movements which became like a dance challenge across the world to a wide range of ages from kids to adults. It became a dance challenge of learning the moves and dancing them side by side to the graphic characters.

The use of dance and movement is not new, but only the music industry was the one to fully use it and “Capitalize it”. You can even ask whether the kings of pop, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, would have become this big without their movements? This question allows us to understand how impactful is dance and movement.

Regarding the question of how our movements will change over time. I think of it as an opportunity to explore how movement can develop into a medium of communication, like Graphic Design or Journalism. Only now we are able to ask this question because of the possibilities viral videos and technologies like Motion Capture can offer.

Movement is a very powerful tool. We can see it crosses continents and can still hold its original meaning, its origins and what’s even more special about it, is that everybody can do it.

Is there a particular artist who inspires you, or whose work you’re excited about?

Yes, in this field of “Motion Capture” I’ve been following Andrew Thomas Huang since he’s work “Solipsist”. I find him relevant for my process as he incorporates in his works movement, texture, colors and impactful image-making. With a background in visual effects, puppetry and animation he creates mythic worlds and his visual aesthetic are quite unique and very inspiring.

Vincent Houze works like ״Transitions״ that premiered at your venue, encourages movement and participation in a way that is intuitive without the intimidating presence of technology. It is very inspiring and holds a lot of the potential of immersive and multi-sensory experiences.