STOCOS. (2011-2012).   50m

Stocos is the third part of a trilogy focused on the analysis and development of the interaction between sonic gesture and dance gesture inside three dimensional sound spaces. In this new piece Muriel Romero and Pablo Palacio collaborate with media artist and artificial intelligence researcher Daniel Bisig.

Stocos is a trans-disciplinary project  that combines stochastic processes and artificial intelligence based simulations in order to create behavioral dependencies and aesthetic relationships between dancers, simulated entities, music, visuals and light. As a result, the stage becomes a responsive environment whose visual and acoustic properties emerge from the mutual interactions between the dancers, stochastic sound synthesis and swarm simulations.

As a result, the stage becomes a responsive environment whose visual and acoustic properties emerge from the mutual interactions between dancer and simulation.

CONCEPTION AND IDEA: Pablo Palacio / Muriel Romero, CHOREOGRAPHY: Muriel Romero, PERFORMANCE: Muriel Romero and Ruth Maroto.

MUSIC COMPOSITION: Pablo Palacio, INTERACTIVE SWARM SIMULATION: Daniel Bisig ,PRODUCTION: Pablo Palacio and Muriel Romero, CO-PRODUCTION: Mercat de las Flors, SUPPORTS: Cervantes Intitut, Hebel Halle (Heidelberg, Germany), Teatros del Canal (Madrid, Spain), El Graner (Barcelona, Spain), Festival VAD (Girona, Spain).

WITH THANKS TO: Sergio Luque Ancona.


VIDEOS (click the link to watch)

STOCOS (clip)        STOCOS (rain excerpt)         STOCOS (5 elements)        STOCOS (contours)  

STOCOS (motion tracking detail)

PICTURES (click the image to enlarge)


Stocos creates a three-dimensional space in which natural and artificial entities coexist, interrelate and overlap. It relies on stochastic processes and swarm simulations for the creation of dance movements, musical compositions and visual imagery. Throughout the performance, a dense network of mutual interactions among algorithms, dance, music and visuals establishes coherence, simultaneity and presence in the behavioral and aesthetic characteristics of the piece. 

The musical composition is based on the stochastic processes of brownian motion, a method that was initially devised by Iannis Xenakis. Stocos develops an extension of this approach using swarm simulations. These processes also define some of the dancer's movement sequences and they affect the swarm based live imagery. The spatial movements of the music are achieved via an octaphonic speaker ring that surrounds both the stage and audience space.  

The video imagery is life generated and renders the spatial movements of various interactive swarm simulations that have been specifically developed for the piece. The imagery is projected seamlessly on the back of the stage, the stage floor and the dancers bodies in an attempt to create a behavioral and visual continuity between the natural properties of the space, its inhabitants and the simulated entities. The characteristics of these responsive visuals continually changes from a dynamic property of the entire space to that of autonomous virtual dancers improvising on stage up to that of a artificial skin that covers the dancer's bodies. 

The dance performance combines pre-choreographed and improvised sequences for two human dancers and virtual dancers. The dancer's abstract gestures explore the network of mutual dependencies and causalities that relate them to the musical and visual activities on stage. The choreography reflects the properties of the hybrid ecosystem, that responds favorable or antagonistic but never neutral to the activities of its inhabitants.


A choreography may be envisioned as a succesion of subsequent events. Each of these events are connected in a more or less deterministic way. The events that compose a random walk are connected using probability distributions that may generate trajectories that evolve in a more or less deterministic fashion.

From a formal point of view in Stocos, uses random walks as a model to generate dance motion, starting from a disorder concept and then introduce means that increase or reduce it. In this manner each new step is obtained applying stochastic variations to the previous one.

Another choreographic approach in Stocos  is to use random walks to "walk" among the different steps that comprise a previously composed variation. This produces a constant change in its structure. Different random walks are used for each dancer, thus creating a sort of reverberation of the original variation. These algorithmic procedure is generated in Supercollider language.


Sound in Stocos is generated using a software implementation of dynamic stochastic synthesis, a rigorous algorithmic  composition procedure conceived by Iannis Xenakis. It uses mathematical concept of random walks to produce both duration structure and timbral fluctuations in computer generated sound, resulting in a huge gamut of sonic entities. An original version of the algorithm was written in Supercollider language.

Stocos proposes an extension of the Xenakian algorithm using swarm simulations to modulate the parameters that define the dynamic stochastic algorithm. These parameters are, at some moments of the piece, controlled by the activity of the dancers.

Concerning the sound diffusion an eight loudspeaker array surrounds the audience and the stage. The sounds move through the speaker set developing their own choreography.


Swarm behaviour is a branch of artificial intelligence based on the collective behaviour of self-organised systems. Swarm intelligence systems are composed of agents that interact  among themselves and with their environment. A biomimetic multi-agent simulation was specifically developed for the piece.The simulation synchronizes the dancer's activities on stage with the self-organized dynamics of groups of agents that engage into coherent movements.

The agent movements serve as a generative mechanism that underlies the real time creation and control of computer based video and music. As a result, the stage becomes a responsive environment whose visual and acoustic properties emerge from the mutual interactions between dancer and simulation.