Erin Gee is an artist and composer based in Montréal who explores digital culture through the metaphors of human voices in electronic bodies. Working in video, performance, robotics and audio art, Gee has exhibited most recently at MediaLive Festival, Boulder (2017), Hamilton Artists’ Inc. (2016), Transfer Gallery, NYC (2015), Device_art Triennale, Zagreb, Croatia (2015). Her work as a composer has been performed by the Hamilton Children’s choir as well as Andrea Young at Vancouver New Music Series, Open Space (Victoria), and New Works (Calgary).
Gee’s practice is distinguished by her interdisciplinary approach to sound, not only in art and music but particularly in areas of science and engineering. In 2011 Gee was invited by new media artist Stelarc to participate in a residency at MARCS Institute (University of Western Sydney) in order to create and perform her opera for mobile robotics, Orpheux Larynx. This work was premiered later in 2011 at the Powerhouse Museum of Technology in Sydney, Australia.
Gee’s later work in collaboration with neurophysiologist Vaughan Macefield at MARCS combining robotics and human emotion has been reviewed in publications such as Scientific American, VICE, Oyster Magazine, National Post, and La Presse. Gee has published work in Leonardo Music (2013) as well as eContact! Journal of Canadian electroacoustic community. Gee is the creator of futurefemmes, an online blog archived by Cornell University featuring interviews, showcased work and links to relevant articles on the topic of women working in technological culture. Originally from Regina, SK, Gee is currently teaching in the Communications department of Concordia University (Montreal) on topics of sound, gender and technology.
Gee has received awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec, as well as support from the Conseil des Arts de Montreal, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. She is grateful for their continued support of the arts.
<<<human voices in electronic bodies ….
<<<electronic voices in human bodies…<<<
I am chiefly inspired by processes of vocalization, vibration and language as sites from which meaning is drawn from humanity, which is subsequently articulated by techne. Through my exploration of human voices in electronic bodies, I have created interactive sculptural soundworks, robotic interfaces for sonifying physiological-emotional data, printed images, solo performance work, dance performance for multiple screens, and unique musical instruments for use in vocal ensembles. I develop technology and systems for sonic form in order to enact speculative imaginings. By linking sound concretely to gender and technology, one can employ sonic form as a model for complicating larger systems of assumption about the human body, exploring how voices and bodies can be extended, perverted, multiplied and challenged. This speculative work in new media is of critical necessity in a historical moment when technologies are increasingly corporatized, normalized, and territorialized by capitalist systems of production and surveillance. These conditions cause me to ask: What does it mean to reimagine technology and music through historically neglected oral modes of sensory communication, privileging other sensory models for human vocalization, togetherness, and embodiment?
As originally posited by Donna Haraway in her 1989 Cyborg Manifesto, the political possibility in the cyborg lay not in a comfortable technological fetishization of technology, which reifies systems of normative power, but through a critical rejection of the origin of the human. Historically, which bodies are deemed as fully, partially or ambiguously human has been an expression of shifting politics and agencies more than biological fact—women, people of color, and those deemed atypical in neurological functioning or physical capability have all suffered historically under categories of the “human” and “humane” as that which determines reasonable agency and accommodation in society. In light of these historical factors, my exploration of technology enacts a feminist perversion of human narcissism in machinic coupling, wherein I use sonic structures as a playground for proposing systems where anti-oppressive values of democracy, listening, and empathy are emphasized. O/Au/ral communication methods create unique space for interactivity, noisy dissent, play, experimentation, and articulation of identity that resonates across real and virtual space, and thus provides a guiding force in technological work that extends beyond merely sounding media.