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Creator of the Pentametron collaborates with Brooklyn Ballet

Ballet with bits: Artist makes computer program that makes art

The Brooklyn Paper
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Park Slope artist Ranjit Bhatnagar can’t paint and he can’t sculpt — but he knows how to make ones and zeroes into something beautiful.

The computer-based artist will put his programming skills to the test on Feb. 28 in a collaboration with the real-life dancers at Brooklyn Ballet.

Bhatnagar and his compatriots in the “hacker collective” NYCResistor are figuring out a way to project each quiver of a ballet slipper and every choreographed step on a wall facing the audience, giving them a literal new perspective on the nuances of choreography.

The idea isn’t to outshine the dancers — but it takes a computer to reveal how complicated and precise their movements are.

“I had been interested in focusing and revealing choreography in real time,” said choreographer Lynn Parkerson.

“Sometimes dance pieces can look simple but have a lot of ideas that go into creating the movement.”

The collaboration is a logical next step for Bhatnagar. He has long been interested in using his programming ability to create something that goes beyond an algorithm.

Bhatnagar’s art has the ability to surprise even him.

“It has a life of its own even after its finished,” he said.

That’s not unlike his previous endeavour, in which he designed a computer program — dubbed the Pentametron — that took endless streams of tweets from multitudes of Twitter users and merged them together to create poetry in iambic pentameter with rhyming couplets.

“I know a little freak in Hollywood, I’m tired by Pandora getting good,” Pentametron once wrote. “I wonder what tomorrow’s gonna bring, I’m losing everyone and everything.”

“Brooklyn Ballet’s 2013 season: In 4D“ at Actors Fund Arts Center Theater [160 Schermerhorn Street, between Smith and Hoyt streets in Downtown, (718) 246–0146, www.brooklynballet.org]. Opens Feb. 28, 8 pm. Tickets start at $15.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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