‘Strokes’ is a moving image work that explores how the corporeal and personal are distilled into data through the capture and codification of human motion. The work utilises Computer Generated Imagery, digital video, motion Capture and AI to draw links between animation (the practice of imparting motive vitality to the inert) and automation (the machinic replacement of tasks previously performed by humans).
The work revolves around a central figure dressed in a hooded costume in chroma key blue. She moves through a sparse brown room with marks on the wall that recall markers used for the registration and calibration of a technical system in space. She performs gestures driven by a grab-bag of expressive actions: dancing, painting, rhythmic gymnastics, movement taken from TikTok videos, and vintage footage from live-action animation studios at Disney. I think of her as an aggregate, channelling crude signifiers of vitality, trapped in a warehouse of becoming. Her movements are created using motion-capture data extracted from video using AI software. The work troubles concepts of authorship by staging encounters between the authorial mark and anonymized labour. I draw contrasts between the bodily trace of the artist: the brushstroke, the drawing, the signature move—and anonymised, marginalised body-work associated with affective labour: the muse, the unnamed mocap actor, the human voice behind the AI personal assistant, the mother stroking her child to sleep.
By picking apart the implications of the invisible, and often gendered and racialized human labour that props up the illusion of efficient, lively, autonomous technological agents, Strokes questions whose traces are made visible in the history of culture and whose are simply woven into its support structures.
The single channel work ‘Strokes’ premiered at the Abbotsford Convent as part of Frame: A Biennial of Dance through the ‘Body Cites’ artistic programme curated Priya Namana. The video installation also included a three channel video work titled ‘strokes footnotes’ which accompanied the work.
Annika Koops Strokes 2022 Single channel HD video with sound. Duration: 5 minutes 12 seconds
This works was produced in part with assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Projects for Individuals and Creative Victoria
With thanks to UNSW Art and Design Residency and the Human Robot Interaction Lab
DOP: Matthew Stanton
Motion Capture Performance: Wendy Yu
Annika Koops Strokes Footnotes, 2023 Three channel HD video, no sound, Duration: 1 minute twenty seconds