Impossible Choreographies

The Database as a Creative Tool

  • Gregory Bennett Auckland University of Technology
Keywords: 3D animation, digital art, software studies, digital art practice


This exposition discusses the emergence of the database as a creative methodology, and key organising principle in the generation of a series of 3D digital animated artworks. Through detailed explication and demonstration of a complex creative process utilising a range of media formats including video, 3D model views, and interactive 3D, I aim to elucidate an intricate relationship between technology, process and artistic intent, framing this within relevant emergent critical frameworks around digital creative practice. This design strategy will enable the effective communication of some of the inherent qualities of 3D digital production, and the mapping of the operations of the ‘database’ as a pliable creative tool.

Working directly into high-end 3D modelling and animation software, and taking the actions of a generic male figure as a point of departure, my animations are created in a modular fashion, building up units of performed movements, loops and cycles (both animated and motion-captured), creating a sometimes complex movement vocabulary. This recalls Lev Manovich’s notions of the database and the loop as engines of (non-linear) narrative in digital media work, in particular his principles of modularity, automation and variability as intrinsic to new media objects. In working with complex software tools I also acknowledge in the fabrication process what Rachael Kearney has termed the ‘synthetic imagination’, and Malcolm Le Grice’s conception of submerged authorship in the interaction with the ‘intelligent machine’ – the creative act as a collaboration with the embodied intellect of the software itself.

Drawing on and remediating a range of sources including the photographic studies of Eadweard J. Muybridge, the choreography of Busby Berkeley, nineteenth century optical toys, and the contemporary digital video game, these works present figures which occupy a space between the animate and the inanimate, between automata (devices that move by themselves) and simulacra (devices that simulate other things).

Author Biography

Gregory Bennett, Auckland University of Technology

Gregory Bennett is a Senior Lecturer in the Digital Design Department, School of Art & Design, AUT University, New Zealand, and a practicing artist who works with 3D animation, motion capture, projection mapping and interactive media. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand, and has been teaching at AUT University since 2005 where he established the first courses in motion capture. He is also Director of AUT’s Motion Capture Lab and is currently involved with developing research at AUT around Motion Capture and Virtual Production in a range of areas including Dance, Performance, Fashion, Pedagogy, and Virtual Reality. He has presented both his creative practice and research at international new media conferences and festivals such as SIGGRAPH, ISEA, CURRENTS, and SIMULTAN. As an artist he has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including Australia, the USA, and Europe, and his work is represented in both public and private collections. He is currently represented by Two Rooms Gallery in Auckland.

AUT University Research Profile:–design/senior-lecturers/gregory-bennett
Gregory Bennett Artist website:
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Two Rooms Gallery Artist page:

How to Cite
Bennett, G. (2018). Impossible Choreographies: The Database as a Creative Tool. The Journal of Creative Technologies, (7).