Energy Geared to an Intensity High Enough to Melt Steel: Merce Cunningham, Movement, and Motion Capture


  • Carrie Noland


The paper is concerned with the relation between everyday human social conditioning and the specialized skills demanded by choreography. Exploring the choreographic methods of Merce Cunningham, the author shows how choreography requires an entrainment of the body that mirrors modes of corporeal socialization while deviating in significant ways from the conditioning normally received. Cunningham works with constraints that have little to do with social convention, but that remain historical insofar as they reflect the technological conditions of a particular era. In the paper, his methods are traced from the inception of chance operations to the employment of Life Forms and the software-aided creative process.