Daniil Simkin's "Falls the Shadow" - an Ode to Dance and Technology at the Guggenheim
As spectators make their way into the Guggenheim on the evening of September 4, they are greeted by fragmented phrases of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”– from which Daniil Simkin’s performance takes its title – projected onto the museum’s upward spiral. “Falls the Shadow,” presented on the evenings of September 4 and 5, is the second undertaking of the Guggenheim’s Works and Process Rotunda Project, a series of commissioned performing-arts works that explore artistic creation within the museum’s architecturally-unique interior.
Video courtesy of the Guggenheim Works and Process Rotunda Project.
The performance opens with four dancers at the base of the museum’s rotunda, computer-generated projections enveloping each one in a bright purple aura perfectly synched to every movement of their bodies. The responsiveness of the video projections is made possible by an infrared camera that scans the dancers’ movements and sends them to a computer to generate positional data for the live projection. Dmitrij Simkin, the project’s video designer, told The New York Times how crucial the speed of the computer processing is: “If there is a lag, the brain sees it as a technological trick,” he said. “If there is no lag, as we can do it now, it is like magic, giving another layer to the movement.”
The ceaseless stream of digital imagery is as integral to the piece as the Guggenheim’s architecture, adding to the performance but never taking away from the dance itself. In one part of the piece, the dancers create a trail of rippling waves behind them; in another, they hurl what looks like smoke or dark ink at one another – all made possible through the interactive media designs of Aristídes Job García Hernández. But the virtual shadows aren’t confined to the base of the rotunda. They flow up the curves of the Guggenheim like a sweeping tornado, a rising flood, an explosive supernova.
“Falls the Shadow” ultimately represents not only the controversial presence of performing arts in a fine art sanctuary, but the seamless marriage of movement, architecture, and 3D technology.