Interview with Adam H Weinert

Our final interview for your film inspiration is the multi-faceted Adam H Weinert. Adam is a performance-based artist born and raised in New York City. His work breaks out of traditional formats and includes technology in truly fascinating ways. Check out his answers and try something new yourself!

How did you get interested in working with a camera?

When I choreograph it’s hard for me to just sit at the edge of the room and watch. I want to get close to the action and move around. I was drawn to working with film and video because it lets you work with proximity, and translate that experience to the viewer. 

What was an initial struggle and how did you overcome it?

Not having the right equipment. Making friends with people who did.  

What was your initial inspiration for your innovative guerrilla work at MoMA?

That project, The Reaccession of Ted Shawn, came about after an invitation from MoMA to reconstruct and re-perform the early solos of Ted Shawn from the 1930’s. During the performances it felt as if everyone were watching me through their smartphones while they were tweeting, texting or taking photographs. Rather than ignore it, I wanted to engage these technologies and so created an app whereby people view the performances through their mobile devices.  The app turns your smartphone into a time machine, allowing you to see performances by Weinert and Shawn using augmented reality technology. By following directions on the project’s website which walks the viewer through five floors of the museum, the mobile app is able to recognize architectural details and museum signage in order to display the digital installation on your screen. The MoMA map is also “rigged”, allowing you to take aspects of the exhibition home with you or view them online.

How do you find an audience for your work in new spaces, on film, on stage, in the digital sphere?

When I launched The Reaccession of Ted Shawn, I was excited to receive critical acclaim from dance writers in Time Out New York, The Financial Times, and others, but more excited still to be written up by tech bloggers and cultural writers in Gizmodo, Gawker, and Hyperallergic. I am very interested in continuing to build bridges between these communities. The press tended to focus on the subversive, unauthorized aspect of the installation, an angle I invited and perhaps encouraged, but which only represents a part of the conversation I wanted to instigate. I’m more interested in creating new places and ways for museums, and those inside of them, to construct meaning. This installation would not be possible without the architecture of the space or participating members of the public. It is built, activated, and augmented by them.

What do you miss in live performance that you would like to see captured more on film?

I enjoy it when technology is used to bring the performance closer to the public. The first time I saw this done successfully was in William Forsythe’s Kammer/Kammer. Here, large television screens were suspended over the audience to reveal parts of the stage that were otherwise unseen. Technology can sometimes create an artificial distance or disconnection, but I love to see it used to make the experience more vital.

Who are the film creators you enjoy watching, be it with or without movement?

DV8 Physical Theater is still making some of the most incredible films from their live performances.  Michelle Ellsworth is another one of my favorite artists working in video.  

Any advice for budding choreographers cinematographers?

Just start doing it. Ask your favorite band if you can make a music video for them.  If they say no, do it anyway and send it to them. Try out a few different editing programs and see which one feels the most intuitive. Play around and don’t worry if it’s bad. Dance is establishing itself as a medium that can thrive outside of the concert hall and gain traction with new audiences. Be a part of the change that helps dance stay vital.

Adam H Weinert is a performance-based artist born and raised in New York City. He began his training at The School of American Ballet, and continued on to Vassar College, The Juilliard School, and New York University, where he recently earned a Master’s Degree under the tutelage of André Lepecki. Adam has danced with The Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, The Mark Morris Dance Group, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Christopher Williams, and for six years served as the Artistic Associate to Jonah Bokaer. In addition to his performance work, Adam has been published in The New York Times, the Juilliard Journal, and as a featured profile in New York Magazine. He produced and choreographed an award-winning collection of dance film shorts screened nationally and abroad, and his performance works have toured to four continents including a number of non-traditional dance venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Tate Britain Museum, and The Tate Modern Museum. He was awarded Presidential Distinction and Scholastic Distinction from the Juilliard School, and in 2008 received the Hector Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography. He is currently Visiting Artist in Residence at Bard College.