2013 Tag

Erin Gee - Swarming Emotional Pianos

Swarming Emotional Pianos

(2012 – ongoing)

Aluminium tubes, servo motors, custom mallets, Arduino-based electronics, iCreate platforms

Approximately 27” x 12” x 12” each

Custom biosensors that collect heartrate and signal amplitude, respiration amplitude and rate, and galvanic skin response (sweat).

Biodata collection software and affective data responsive algorithmic music software built in Max/MSP.

A cybernetic musical performance work that bridges robotics and emotion to create biologically harmonic chamber music. Swarming Emotional Pianos features a set of mobile robots that each house a bell instrument and lighting components. The music that these robots play is determined through physiological responses of a human subject to emotional state, which is reflective of affective computing research. These physiological markers including breathing, heart rate, sweat glands, blood pressure. Research is ongoing for integration of skin sensitive neural activity through microneurography into the system.

My final goal is a live performance whereupon actors are hooked up live to biosensors and their emotional data is wirelessly streamed to the robotic musical instruments. This will require extensive biofeedback testing. I maintain an active dialogue with microneurographer and neurophysiologist Vaughan Macefield, in anticipation of networked, telematic performances that involve tiny needles inserted directly into nerves that reflect emotional arousal. The use of microelectrode needles inserted directly into the nerves of awake human performers to pick up on direct electrical neural activity is a unique technical component of this project.

The goal in creating this work is to illuminate and explore the complex relationships between body and mind in human emotions. Emotional-physical outputs are extended through robotic performers as human actors focus on their internal states, and in fact activate their emotions mechanistically, as a means of creating change in their body, thus instrumentalizing emotion.

Credits

Thank you to the following for your contributions:

  • Martin Peach (my robot teacher) – Sébastien Roy (lighting circuitry) – Peter van Haaften (tools for algorithmic composition in Max/MSP) – Grégory Perrin (Electronics Assistant)
  • Matt Risk, Tristan Stevans, Simone Pitot, and Jason Leith for their hours of dedicated studio help
  • Concordia University, the MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney, Innovations en Concert Montréal, Conseil des Arts de Montréal, Thought Technology, and AD Instruments for their support.

Swarming Emotional Pianos (2012-2014) Machine demonstration March 2014 – Eastern Bloc Lab Residency, Montréal

Erin Gee - 7 Nights of Unspeakable Truth at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2013

7 Nights of Unspeakable Truth

(2013)

7-channel audio installation, woven blankets, text work

8 hours duration

“7 Nights of Unspeakable Truth is a long-form composition that consists of documentation of dusk-till dawn searches for number stations on shortwave radio frequencies. Arranged in order, from day one to day seven, the installation allows one to physically walk through seven evenings of shortwave, synchronized in their respective times, in physical space. This spatialization of each night will allow listeners to make comparisons, appreciating patterns demonstrated in Gee’s search as she consults research and online communities to tune into mysterious, unexplained broadcasts that consist only of numbers, tones and codes.”

This body of work is informed by my fascination with these principles of secrecy, organization and communication, coupled with the nocturnality of a solitary listener that connects to others via online chat in order to share an obscure passion. It’s a search for disembodied voices in strange technotongues. The patterns of my searching during 7 Nights of Unspeakable Truth are woven directly into blankets, in text artworks I weave together my research into radio technologies, music history, and ancient numbers documents from times past in order to re-present an encrypted mystery. The 7-channel audio is composed listening and searching that you can listen to, 7 Nights compressed into one enfolded 8 hour experience.