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Spirits Melted Into Air by Tom Armitage

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Spirits Melted Into Air is a project exploring actors’ movement on stage, created by Tom Armitage as a series of three commissions programmed by Caper and produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It takes individual scenes or speeches – in this case, two individual scenes from the 2012 Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Richard III and The Comedy of Errors – and produces data-visualisations of actors’ motion during them.

By stripping the text away from dramatic performance and removing the playwright, it highlights the work that the Royal Shakespeare Company does in bringing the written texts of Shakespeare’s plays to life.

Namely: the production aspects – the actor, director, motion coach, audience; everyone that influences a performance.

The work is in parts a technology prototype, data visualisation, and artwork. Custom-built, open-source software is used to analyse performance video and generate plots of actors’ positions on stage from a perspective viewpoint. These plots are then used to generate new, secondary artworks: posters, and laser-cut wooden shapes.

The posters illustrate only the traces of the actor upon stage; “footnotes” indicate salient lines in the text of the scene, anchoring the movement to Shakespeare’s original words.

The wooden shapes represent the shape of the actors’ footsteps for the whole scene, and are engraved with arrows indicating directions of motion, as well as recording the scene, actor, and date of performance.

More information, including video and photographs, is at http://spiritsmeltedintoair.com

About Tom Armitage - http://tomarmitage.com

Tom Armitage is a technologist, writer and designer based in London.  He makes tools, toys, and art out of hardware, software, and the network. He has spoken on technology, design, and games at conferences around the world, and runs a popular weblog at http://infovore.org .

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