FINAL|Motion in Two Dimensional Space


Title: Motion in Two Dimensional Space

Artist: Kammy Yuan

Completion Date: March 14, 2015

Place of Creation: UCSD Sixth College Apartment

Style: research, experimental

Technique: computer process

Material: online video clips, simulation generated by Adobe After Effects

Link to documentation of piece:

Popping Motion:

Ballet Motion: 

Descriptive paragraph

In the previous lecture we have discussed about the topic of gestures and movement, and how they convey information to the audience. For the final project I have decided to do an experimental type of art to see how choreography movement can translate information into a two dimensional space. First I have hypothesized that by tracking the movement of the dancer, the motion drawn out would be recognizable corresponding to the dance. The information conveyed through the dance in three dimensional space is able to be translated into two dimensional space by drawing them out. In order to find some dance footage, I went on YouTube and found two different styles of dance. One is Popping, which is a style that simulates robotic movement, and another one is Ballet, which utilizes movement to tell a story. After downloading them under the license of Creative Commons, I dragged the footage into Adobe After Effects and tracked the dancers’ four limbs and their heads. I wanted to track those points because they are the major body parts that dancers use to dance. Next I drew the movement out in the same program by creating a line object that follows the tracked motion. I also used different color to distinguish which body part is which. After rendering the tracked video, I sat down with some of my suitemates and asked if they could see the same information conveyed and what kind of dance style it is between the original video and the tracked one, which only contains the lines going through the black screen. The result is that they could not tell what the lines represent, until they saw that the lines were supposed to be tracked movement of the dancers.

The trackers are colorized according to different body parts: Right Hand: red Left Hand: blue Right foot: yellow Left foot: green Head: purple
a snapshot of how movement is tracked in After Effects


Although this art experiment was unsuccessful in that I failed to test my hypothesis, I have discovered the importance of three dimensional space in showcasing movement. At first I thought information can be broadcasted clearly by tracking and “drawing” them out because the gestures that performers do seem like they were drawing in space. However I realized that by tracing out the movement onto a plane, I have also flatten out the parts that is supposed to be in the three dimensional space. As a result the information presented becomes different. Another difference between the dance video and the motion drawn is that the dance video contains more body points that simulate movements. What I mean by that is that other than the four limbs and the head, the dancer is also moving other body parts that I did not track down. This may be one of the errors that contributed to why the two dimensional motion drawing did not convey information as successfully. If I were to pin point every body parts that move in the dance, maybe the gesture would become clearer to the viewers. This might also be a factor in what makes a three dimensional space, three dimensional, as more details are added in how the body moves. However, other than failures, I have discovered that in the two dimensional space, the difference in style of dance is still apparent. In Popping, small movement is seen as lines are overlapping each other and the movement is angular. In Ballet, the movement is large and circular. Thus, despite not being able to communicate much information, it still conveys part of it in terms of the characteristics in different dance moves. In the end I wish that viewers can walk away knowing the importance of three dimensional space from my mistakes, and that movement still serves an important factor in communication. If only time permits, I wish to build something more upon this project. By adding different style of dance move to study, hopefully I can find more discoveries in how choreography and movement communicates.The conceptual issue in art and tech this project addresses is movement and how it serves as a second language after verbal. Artists like Frank B. Gilbreth and William Forsythe have all wondered how movement conveys its messages to people. Gilbreth’s Chronocyclegraph aim to study motion in order to get optimal relationship between human effort and the work accomplished. Gilbreth attaches small lamps on the workers body and record the movement through a time lapse. The result is a photograph that tracks down all the movement the workers have done. On another hand, Forsythe is interested in how choreography can send information without having a body. In his project, he tracks down the movement and cues that the dancers have with each other through series of graph and motion tracker. In this way, he hoped that choreography ideas are made visible. Influenced by these two ideas, my project aims to see how movement, choreography in particular, conveys its story to the audience. By tracking down motion like Gilbreth did, and taking Forsythe’s idea that choreography contains information to be broadcasted, I wonder what choreography looks like in a two dimensional space, and whether it would convey the same message successfully.


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