In July 2016 we had the chance to participate to the Master in Media Design Graduation Show, Piet Zwart Institute, where we met Joana. Her work was something totally new for us and she presented her research with such an inspiring performance that we decided to plan an interview. Her project and ongoing research is a beautiful mix of languages called “choreographic coding”:


Hi Joana, tell us something about you. What is your background?

I am a media designer, researcher and performer, with a background in performance — classical ballet and contemporary dance. In my practice I investigate the possible connections between – and coexistence of – choreography and media design, aiming to open the possibilities for new aesthetic, energetic and social dimensions in design production processes.

In my work I experiment with open source graphic tools, and the combination of programming and choreographic languages. My independent project {jobcb.github.io} has grown into diverse live performances and coding demonstrations of the methodology/research and recently taken the format of ‘rehearsals’ a temporary stage for experimenting with coding and choreography.


How do you usually get inspiration?

I am very curious about many different fields of knowledge; I don’t think I look for ‘inspiration’ per se, but I certainly get influenced by the people I encounter, books and articles I read, exhibitions and events I attend. Overall I am interested in understanding how different practitioners integrate their ethics and aesthetics into a holistic system.  Every practice – inside and outside the artistic and cultural realm – is constantly exposed to decision making processes which need to be considered as part of a bigger ecological system; and in these sense all practices are connected and interfere with one another.

I am also very much driven by the perceptive qualities of what I encounter; how they interfere with my senses and shape my understanding of the world.


What was the main inspiration behind your thesis? What was the concept that guided you?

After pursuing studies on graphic design, along with an intrinsic interest in different communication systems, I initiated a research on choreographic scores: a system which is used for writing dance movement. In parallel to my dance practice I had started learning about choreographic methodologies, and on how dance has been composed and communicated throughout its history.

My thesis research then started with a focus on two languages: choreography and programming.

Both media design and choreography make use of formal language structures to create compositional methods. Likewise both design scripts and dance scores are the result of a composition process, which define the space and time for a series of actions to unfold. To reflect on how elements relate to each other and to the whole, is to come to understand how spatial decisions inherently set a specific rhythm and flow to the outcome, which is perceived in the moment it is accessed/performed.

In design, scripts are written with programming languages and are executable by a computer, and can be used to create information displays on screens or actions in a web browser. Similarly, choreographic scores define a set of rules and the conditions for certain actions, the main difference being that this will be executed by human (bodies). Both scores and scripts hold the question of performance, the possibility and responsibility for action.

From here I moved on to experiment with the live performance setting, as a way to make visible the processes, structures and the usage of these languages; now combined into one: choreographic code. These notion of ‘choreographic coding’ is a technical as much as social and cultural material which can be expanded both at the level of web-design as well at the one of choreography.


What is the aim of your research?

In my research work, choreography is a way to reflect and find alternative paths towards the use of tools, systems of visuality, accessibility, and distribution of information in web interfaces. In my practice-based work, I present an assemblage of audio-visual and graphic experiments in a live performance setting, combining principles of choreography within the formal structures of coding.

Choreographing Design\ Designing Choreographies was initiated after my master studies at Piet Zwart Institute in June 2016, and since then it has been evolving into different formats and has been presented in various locations and events.

The project is a re-articulation of the two disciplines at a fundamental level: choreography and media design, a co-formation of compositional and thematic concerns. A hybrid methodology that makes invisible forces (elements of choreography) appear as physical manifestations in media design. An assemblage of compositional and methodological concerns.


What will be your next steps?

For the near future I hope to open up my practice to new collaborations; to make a truly trans-disciplinary project. To challenge and better understand how the ‘choreographic thought’ I have been developing so far may create new situations between humans and machines; audiences and performers; theories and practices.

At a personal level, I would like to expand my knowledge on computation systems; and to take my choreographic perspective into various forms of movement studies, somatic practices and ways of working with the body.


Thank you Joana!

Visit her page to know more about the research and to collaborate with Joana! { jobcb.github.io/about.html }


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