Axon Ladder (HD 53min, 2014) w/ Bhob Rainey & Meg Foley

(4-Channel Sound, Phantom Miro high-speed industrial camera, MAX/MSP, non-idiomatic improvisational dance, spray paint, plexiglass, green-screen cloth, text fragments in live mix from Kay Ryan, Gertrude Stein, Dylan Thomas, and Catherine Pancake)


Built upon shared interests in technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, Axon Ladder is a multimedia performance installation by Catherine Pancake, Bhob Rainey, and Meg Foley. Combining algorithmic electronic composition with a cinematic single channel video work and a secondary screen with real-time video manipulation, the evening-length work offers a timely view into the intersection of advancing technology and human intuition.


Catherine Pancake (visual concept design, cinematographer) and Meg Foley (choreographer, dancer):

Axon Ladder features the mechanics and creativity of dance movement partnered in a framed cinematic motion study. The dancer's cinematic body is both conceptual and experiential. The piece changes the relational framework of choreography by dividing up the perceived and idiosyncratic ends of a given movement. In so doing, it changes how the movement is read as material and its incremental parts and overall "shape." One might ask how choreographic shape and definition function in this “outer” space where the body is weighted and weightless.


The work acts upon the viewer, both disassociating from the live body by altering one's sense of time and also activating sensory input and consideration of how the body works. Axon Ladder opens up a contradiction between the “real’ moment of dance improvisation where movement is unpredictable and a new world where the anticipation of the transfer and catching of weight are built of accumulated steps. Watching the flesh shift and seeing every detail is like seeing sound waves beneath the skin. By zeroing in on a moment of action, the larger framework of time is both fetishized and dissolved.


Bhob Rainey (composer)

By feeding the music into movement and mediating that movement through video representations, we extend the resonance of this human-technological knot and form a loop-like structure: artificial life (technological presence) -> musical composition (aesthetic activity) -> dance (embodied aesthetic activity) -> uncanny videography (technological mediation). The formal clarity of this loop, along with the strong impact that audio / visual collaborations bring, will significantly heighten the actual experience of the conceptual content of this work.



Supported by American Composers Forum Subito Grant

Finalist New Music USA Grant




May 11th 2014, Installation View, Outposts Artists Resources, Brooklyn, NYC

April 18th 2014, Live Peformance, UPenn Rotunda, Philadelphia, PA


Special thanks to Bobby Gonzales (performer) Helian Zhang (Production Assistant,) & Bruce Byker James (technical consulting)