Tuesday, January 04, 2005


There are many ways in which I'd like the Tango center to be like San Francisco's exploratorium. I don't want to lose any of the tango qualities, or the peer-to-peer learning, but I'd like to re-inforce them with more kinds educational tools.

Display of Song / Orchestra / Album
Music is very important, so we want to display the name of the song, the album, the orchestra ... But unless this information is digital, it will be difficult. We could also organize a team of volunteers to sift through cards and put them on display, of course. Eventually, we need a set of people putting together song translations and subtitles too. Classes in Spanish, Russian, Finnish etc. based on Tango lyrics would of course be useful. It might even result in new songs.

Giant pendulum, weak magnet
At the exploritorium, there's a giant concrete pendulum which you have to 'lead' back and forwards by a very tenuous magnet. I was with someone who didn't have the patience to do this with such little detectable force, and I believe that means she wouldn't be able to do Tango. At least, not without certain advances in her philosophy and sensitivity. I think having this pendulum, or similar self-educating aids, could help people a great deal.

Infrared camera
In one sense, it would just be cool to have an infrared display, in front of a back corner of the parquet, or in the far back, so people could watch themselves dancing (a mirror elsewhere would also be useful ... and perhaps a video camera & screen. Just not on the social dance floor.)

Another use would be several cameras so you could look at your posuture in motion. For all cameras, a capture button, so people don't look at themselves while dancing, would be very helpful.

The bird's eye view
This is an idea basically from the event/density studies ... I get it sort of from William Whyte of "Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" ... make a map of the floor & tables 7 lounge of the tango center. Point several infrared cameras down on the crowd, and stitch the pictures together onn a map, to get a sense of the flow on the floor etc.

A time lapse camera would also be nice. And a web cam, as long as you couldn't identify people (people don't want to be that clearly seen, live).

Kinesiology of walking
Basically models that deal with physical timing issues, especially of various moves. Kind of a tango animatronic, which you could stop, and watch go backwards ... modelled on the best dancers.

Sculpture & sketching
There still needs to be some way to encourage people to come to the Tango Center to sketch, sculpt and paint. The best way, of course, would be to have a gallery, where these items could be sold (handmade posters too). We could have public competitions to see which are best (most alive), and most prominently displayed. Children's classes too.

Instructors board
Before any of this, you want a big, visible board with the schedule of classes, instructors, tango events, at the center and elsewhere. At the moment, the front desk is serving this purpose, but it needs to be re-inforced.

Pattern constructor, sequence exhibits
Which describes what I'm doing here ... find the patterns in music, floorcraft, dance, lyricism, public spaces, interior-shaping, etc. Name them, describe them. Show coherent things built from them (like, a display of good dancers making something from a song, or a DJ's evening ... the music combined with the time-lapse & bird's-eye view).

Also, lead people through sequence exhibits ... like, how to DJ. Or arrange a tango for bandoneon & guitar. Or write some poetry. Or build a display. And walk them through it ... true interactive displays should allow people to make something, to do something. Make a pair of shoes, for example, or hem a dress, or fix a heel, or darn a sock ... or stretch, do a yoga posture or program, adjust your spine, stay healthy, do experiments, stay healthy, etc.

A display of things like the three red filter demo, the 40-penny problem, the limits of conciousness demo, etc. Food for thought about tango.

I'd also like to show videos, which you could stop, forward or rollback, of plants unfolding, ontologically. And Chris Alexander's demonstration of unfolding of venice etc.

There is a neat little touchscreen display of Zebra fish development at the Exploritorium, which needs very much to be duplicated. (Note: touchscreen kiosks are available for under $2,000). It could also be good for teaching language, geography of Argentina, or Oregon ... all without being too much like a pinball parlour. Many more couches, tables & chairs should help this ...

We have to do more without looking in tango, and areas for exercising this discipline could be fascinating. A touch-typing teacher, for example. Or exercises in self-sculpting and self-drawing without the use of mirrors. There is a result that using your hand to match the angle of a mountain lets you more accurately guess an angle ... it works, and helps you see the raw advantage of getting close to reality. There are also many potential proportion and posture observation experiments.

Attractive, interesting models of downtown, and the region, and patterns and sequences, will lead people to participatate in the Community Projects initiative.


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