April 28, 2022
Class of 2022: A freshman class in digital media inspires a new direction in art
Taylor Colimore never dreamed she’d work with robots and live coding when she came to VCU’s School of the Arts.
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Like many students, Taylor Colimore wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in when she came to Virginia Commonwealth University. “I just knew I really loved making art,” she said.
The Towson, Maryland, native considered studying scientific and medical illustration or craft and material studies. She did not envision working on choreography-based human-robot interactions, algorithmic choreography or live coding languages.
Colimore took a class called “Time Studio” during her freshman year. She was convinced the time-based digital media art class would be her absolute least favorite.
But she discovered a fascination with software and the “infinite possibilities of working with a nondestructive medium” such as kinetic imaging, which emphasizes animation, video, sound and performance art.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed working with digital media,” Colimore said. “In that class, I made my first animation, video, sound and performance projects and I was excited by the new tools that I had only just been introduced to. The kinetic imaging department offered the same experimental environment that I loved so much in art foundation, but with a focus on digital and time-based art.”
Colimore graduates in May from the VCU School of the Arts with a bachelor’s in kinetic imaging and experiences she never could have imagined as a freshman.
In 2020, Colimore performed live code choreography as part of Terpsicode, live coding language created by Kate Sicchio, Ph.D., an assistant professor of dance and media technologies, that uses dance vocabulary to create sequences performed by dancers in real time.
Here’s how it works: Sicchio uses code to call an image to a screen projected large enough for the dancers to see. The dancers replicate the position in the image. Another image is added to the mix and the dancers respond to the new image.
“As new images get added, the sequence of the images changes, thus changing the movement sequences the dancers are performing in real time,” Colimore said. “I am lucky enough to be part of Terpsicode 2.0, where images of myself and my movement can be called upon for any dancer to interpret in a Terpsicode performance.”
The next year, as part of the 2021 International Conference on Live Coding, Colimore participated in a livestreamed performance of “Studio//Stage” with Sicchio and VCU dance student Tamara Denson. The web-based, live coded screen dance performance uses a live coding mini language to create choreographed compositions in real time. The team used live code video clips of Denson and Colimore dancing within the same live coding environment. The piece explores looping, time and position.
Colimore also worked with Sicchio and Patrick Martin, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the VCU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, on the first iteration of “Amelia and the Machine,” a duet between dancer Amelia Virtue and a robot named Isadora with a focus on gesture that debuted in February. Colimore recorded motion capture data from the dancer to teach the robot the choreography. She also soldered the robot’s LED “costume,” which lit up to match the dancer’s teal unitard.
“At the actual performance, I was part of the run team for the piece as the camera operator for the live feed that was projected behind the two performers,” Colimore said. “Altogether, this piece had a lot of people involved and a lot of moving parts, but it was so exciting to watch this project go from conceptualization to performance, and I am so happy to be a part of the start of this collaboration.”
After graduation, Colimore plans to stay in Richmond to pursue a creative career full time as a video editor or in a post-production position. Her artwork can be viewed at https://www.instagram.com/taylorcolimore/?hl=en.
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