A few thoughts on artists creating technology

A lot of people have been asking me how, as an dance artist, have I become interested in technology and software creation. The way I see it, there are two main types of ways that technology intersects with the arts:

1) in creating access and ways of experiencing the art and

2) as part of the art itself.

Today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the first, and write more about the second at a later time.

I am both very interested in artistic creation itself, and in the ways that audiences connect with it, and are impacted by it. I believe that audiences are inherently co-producers, in that they bring their own history and ways of seeing to the art as they experience it. Since there are many different kinds of people seeing any single work of art, I aim to create multiple access points which people can choose to augment their overall experience. These are ways that individuals can gain access to the art, creation process, and to the community around the art. Technology provides ways for artists to extend and manage these exchanges for their audiences, which has driven my interest in making the web easier for myself, and for other artists to use.

While I haven’t stopped choreographing for more that six months at a time since I was 14 years old, my undergraduate degree was actually in Public Policy, focusing on federal level involvement in the arts and education. In addition, I spent a lot of time taking and being a teaching assistant for computer science classes, and worked in the Brown University Computer Graphics research group. I started to recognize how creative software programming could be, and even to see some parallels to the choreographic process. While I haven’t personally written software code for years, these above experiences fed my familiarity with and interest in applying the smart use of technology to helping artists on a systems level to involve audiences in realizing their artistic visions.

As the founder of a small dance company in NYC, I experience first-hand the challenges of managing the company, alongside creating art. My interest is to engage our audiences around both the artistic and production process, so that they can feel closer to the experience, and so that artists can both deepen their impact on audiences and benefit from the partnership of audiences in helping to support the growth of their work.

Yes, managing a software development process is quite different from being in the dance studio. But at core, building AEP is about furthering the mission of our artistic work, to create deeper impact on our audiences and to progress the art.


Chris Elam
Artistic Director
Misnomer Dance Theater

Oct. 30, 2010, Filed under category Program info


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