Who Is The Better Dancer? Man or Machine?

The whole premise of Latona is there exists an opportunity for a new form of artistic expression because of 2 technological advances.     One, the Latona software, process and algorithms used to model real life displacement patterns.  And two, autonomously moving agents such as robots and personal transporters which can realize these patterns.

But wait, is there not an opportunity to enhance human dance with just the Latona technology?    I thought no after the patterns became increasingly complex as my process evolved.   High degrees of precision were required to implement the patterns as I envisioned.   Then I saw this….


Maybe humans were more capable than I thought.   And maybe humans could offer some advantages.   The following are my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of man versus machine in the context of Latona.



Machines win here.   Humans take hours to learn the patterns.   A robot or automated wheelchair would only need a data transfer that takes seconds.  Moreover, machines can back each other up and learn new roles on the spot.   If a human is unable to perform, there may not be a replacement or only one that is ill prepared.



Humans cannot gauge their position in space as well as machines.   When designing patterns for humans, often I utilize targets.   Targets are dancers who arrive in place a count or two before the other dancers.   These targets judge the best they can their position in space and have a few more milliseconds to judge.   The other dancers take their position relative to these targets.

Watch this video and notice how the red tracks arrive 2 count before the rest to set the places...

Maybe it could be an option to use machines to be these targets or people in wheelchairs. They could move with the dancers but their chairs could find the accurate positions to guide the other dancers and move at the proper speeds to create the right relations.   



Humans relate differently to the beat of the music.  When coordinating with the beat, are we imagining making the beat or is the beat making the movement?  Are you behind or ahead of the music?   Groups of dancers who have worked together for a long time, are professional and/or can follow leads well can synchronize between themselves.  It’s wonderful to watch when everyone comes together like this.

Machines on the other hand can be very accurate in this sense, matching movement with tempo very precisely.   Relations between timing and beat can be explored in a much deeper way than was previously possible with just humans.



Machines do not get nervous, get sick or just have a bad day.   They may however breakdown.    Responsibility here shifts from the individual to the producers.   



Are audiences more interested in seeing robots or humans?   I think a major draw in a live performance is seeing our fellow humans overcome their fears, seize the moment and interact with the audience.    We are inspired by the test of human spirit (as well as intrigued by the wreck of a bad performance).   It’s the drama and humanity that attracts us.

But there can also be a pure beauty in movement.   Much of the inspiration for the Latona process has come from watching and analyzing the patterns of flying birds.   A flying flock is beautiful in the patterns they create, the motion, the acceleration, and the balance of chaos and synchronicity.  


What are your thoughts?