What a day! Yesterday we completed an important phase in the project: we have now recorded the movement data we are going to use in the next phases. This phase posed challenges for everyone in the project, as the artistic team, Jarkko and Johanna, had to create a choreography that could then be performed in different emotional scenarios, and then perfect those different scenarios to make them into convincing short stories, where the dynamic, social emotional processes are conveyed through body movements alone. The scientific team (me, Klaus and Maija) were racking our brains trying to figure out which combinations of emotions we should include (and crucially, which ones we could exclude), trying to make sure we have enough and correct data for the following phases (kinematic analysis, movement synthesis, and perceptual experiments).
I am still amazed by Jarkko’s and Johanna’s performances. They are such amazing professionals. During the day, the task for us researchers was simply to keep score of the scenarios so that the dancers would know what comes next. I sat there, as you can see in the clip above, by the mocap computer, pressing the record button and signalling the start of each take with my clapboard. And yet, I felt emotionally drained just looking at J&J get into the different emotions, and performing the scenarios. Especially those where the negative emotion of one dancer “infects” the other so that they both end up overcome by the negative emotion were hard to watch. So yes, we did experience a lot of emotional contagion in the studio, and it didn’t matter that we knew it was acted! Through the movement, the emotions become very tangible, very real, very embodied in the observers, as well. It was of course many times more exhausting for the dancers. Luckily there are places in the mocap lab where you can take a nap. 🙂
Now it is time to dig into the data and see what we’ve got. I’m very happy for the successful completion of this crucial phase of our project, and I’m very excited to start the next phase!