Back to All Events

Cipher: Interactive Installation (Workshop Presentation)

  • Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society 1131 Howe Street Vancouver, BC, V6Z Canada (map)

An interactive movement on screen installation by Brian Johnson and Company 605 (Workshop Presentation)
September 14 and 15  2:00pm-4:00pm
Feel free to stay as long as you wish during these times!

Location: Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society - 1131 Howe st.


In the Bronx during the summer of 1974 DJ Kool Herc noticed that dancers were waiting to bust out their best moves during the breaks found in classic funk/soul tracks by the likes of James Brown, The Winstons and Jimmy Castor. He realized that with two turntables and identical records he could essentially loop these breaks – a potentially infinite dance party that anticipated hip-hop culture, EDM, and looping/sampling as viable artistic techniques. These parties and the culture quickly growing around them were actually a part of a community’s response to the ruination of their neighborhood due to the large scale urban renewal and appropriation projects that city planner Robert Moses single mindedly imposed on New York.

Cipher explores how communities might coalesce around issues or ideas, how they may acquire agency through this solidarity and how this process can subsequently propel new forms forward. The work is a double stream video that takes data from audience movement to generatively edit the two distinct but deeply connected dance films. It takes a looping form in re-imagining Herc’s vision of an infinite B-Boy dance battle. Movement on screen is reiterated in the place of exhibition as distinctions of audience and performer blur and modulate each other. The dialogue between embodied viewers and mediated bodies is reciprocal in terms of movement – and an exploration of this relationship is deeply encouraged throughout the work.

One film was shot in the Bronx at the Crotona Park Play Center – ironically built by Robert Moses not long before his policies subsequently devastated the neighborhood. The other film was shot in the Kuomintang building – a historic Chinese clan association/society building bordering Vancouver’s Strathcona and Chinatown neighborhoods. During the 1970s these Vancouver neighborhoods were also threatened by land appropriation for large scale urban renewal in the form of freeway construction. In Vancouver’s case community members were able to galvanise around this issue and stop the construction of the freeways that would have devastated both communities. Of course today these and many other communities are again threatened by forces of gentrification and global capital – displacing people from their homes and livelihoods. Cipher is a metaphor for dialogue within and between communities. This dialogue, along with the embodied occupation of space, can give people and communities agency within a society otherwise dominated by capital power structures.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1098973890250643/