A Performing Medium for Working Group Graphics

8. AGILITY


8.4 The most agility imaginable   In order to get a better feeling for all aspects of agility working in concert, let's see if we can imagine the most responsive possible medium for text-graphic dance. This imaginary performing instrument will represent the limits of agility which the present medium tries to approach. We might describe this medium in operation as hand-powered performance animation. Not only are text and graphics moving as fast as the operator desires, but even the very quality of their movement in under his or her complete control. Admittedly such a medium is hard to imagine      complete animation of text-graphics generated live in performance      but perhaps part of the problem lies with our ability to imagine ...

Consider the following parable. A cargo plane is flying over the jungle enroute to a very remote Club Med. Through a freak accident, the player piano meant for the night club accidentally falls out of the cargo bay along with hundreds of paper rolls, some with music and some blank. Miraculously the piano survives intact, the only damage being the total destruction of the keyboard. Discovered by a local tribe, one of their musicians figures out how the player piano can be operated in order to make music. It takes about two days to punch a roll which then produces two minutes of music. Years later an explorer happens upon the tribe and they demonstrate piano music for him. He listens politely and thinks somebody ought to tune the thing. Then he tries to explain the concept of a keyboard and its use in jazz improvisation. The tribe listens politely and thinks he is crazy. They explain patiently that his idea would never work: piano music is far too complex for human beings to make up and control in real time      and even if they could, no interface could possibly handle the bandwidth.