Documentary by Engadget for Engadget Alternate Realities Experience, November 14, 2017.

Dance with flARmingos, documentation, Engadget Alternate Realities Experience, Ace Theater, Los Angeles.

Dance with flARmingos, a project of Kristin Lucas

"Dance with flARmingos" is a Mixed Reality experience that features a interspecies dance between humans and flamingos, and pays homage to the flamingo - a consummate showman and embattled victim of environmental neglect - by staging kinship from an ethical distance. To me, it is an exercise in going beyond a human-centered worldview into a more fluid ecological discourse, through the use of technological embodiment and sensory play.
Humans love flamingos, and these charismatic birds have persevered remarkably despite their hyperreal status. Representations of flamingos in fashion, tourism and lawn ornamentation far outnumber their physical presence in the wild. I play a careful dance in this project, staging a relationship between humans and flamingos that is close up and distant, fantastical and factual. The ethereal and intangible qualities of a flamingo hologram are ironically heightened by the fact that wild flamingo populations are disappearing worldwide due to the spread of human activity in wetland areas and climate change.
It is not very plausible or practical to dance with a flamingo IRL. I use digital technologies as a means to reimagine, simulate and stage new possibilities. I subvert the trend of flamingos adapting to humans, by inviting humans to adapt to flamingos in ways that can be social and fun. Mixed Reality has poetic and humorous potential which makes it the perfect medium to explore Mixed Feelings.

Observing the Greater Flamingo at Parc Ornithologique de Pont du Gau in Arles, France during a BAU Arts Institute Residency.

"Dance with flARmingos" exists in partnership with Tour du Valat, a research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands in Arles, France, through which I have adopted twenty wild flamingos. Each of these adopted wild flamingo is represented in the experience by a virtual flamingo that can be interacted with to view its individualized biological and migration data.
Dancing flamingos, crudely modeled, are animated by motion capture data of myself performing like a flamingo. This is an interpretive dance, informed by flamingo behavior and movement observed both online and in the field, and through conversations with and research by flamingo experts. Tour du Valat shared recently published research with me that identified flamingo courtship march postures and I integrated these postures into my flamingo dance choreography.
A variety of Augmented and Mixed Reality technologies are utilized to bring multiple participants at a time through the various stages of the experience, including a flamingo-diet inspired elixir designed by a mixologist to jolt the senses or a custom-blended flamingo wetland habitat fragrance, an interactive Augmented Reality experience on iPads, and an immersive dance for multiple participants wearing Microsoft's HoloLens.
Production Team:
Project Consultants:
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Additional support was provided in part through the following programs:

Hololens with co-presence detection. Oregon Story Board. Recorded on Hololens 12/15/2016. View on YouTube.

Motion Capture recording of flamingo behaviour. Oregon Story Board. 12-13-2016. View on YouTube.

FlARmingos flock animated with human motion capture. Screen recording in Unity. View on YouTube.