Open Source Movement


At 89 years old, American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham has pushed many boundaries in his celebrated career. Long associated with the avant-garde, he has invited numerous collaborations with new media artists over the years. Since 1991, he has used software to choreograph his works, and the resulting sensor-based animations have recently been exhibited as works in their own right. Now the artist is moving his practice towards an open source direction. Longtime Cunningham collaborators Marc Downie, Paul Kaiser, and Shelley Eshkar, who together form the OpenEnded Group, are releasing an open source recording of Cunningham performing a new version of his renowned piece, Loops. Loops was originally performed in 1971 as a solo dance. In this special re-configuration, Cunningham focuses only on his sensor-laden hands and the resulting work is a graceful visualization of his fingers moving through space. The transition into this form indeed visualizes how the artist has evolved over the years. Cunningham is also releasing the score under a Creative Commons (non-commercial/attribution/share-alike) license, so that it can be more closely studied and remixed in the future. For an artist with such a long-standing interest in chance operations, it's a bold and exciting move to see his work opened up to others in this way. - Marisa Olson

Image: Merce Cunningham, Loops, 2008