Concordia University Tag

VR Commission Update

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the art developed last summer in a residency at the Technoculture Art and Games lab at Concordia University with lead 3D artist Alex Lee, art assistant Marlon Kroll, and research assistant Roxanne Baril-Bédard. Among holographic popstars who may or may not have their own consciousness to begin with, the project includes rhetorical analysis of post 9/11 counterterrorist video games, reality television, startup culture, and self-help manuals for improving emotional state.

I am implementing the Biosensor control system this Winter and plan on working on finalizing the game’s art, music and sounds this summer for a launch towards the end of 2017 in an exhibition at Trinity Square Video in Toronto.


In the future, weapons of war possess advanced AI systems, systems that guarantee successful automated combat on behalf of soldiers wielding the technology.  The military still trains its soldiers in case of equipment failure, but at this point, fighters function more as passive operators. The terrorist threat has nothing similar to this technology in their ranks, and the effectiveness of our systems is swift and deadly.  Historically, our soldiers manning the machines have never witnessed violence or devastation at this scale: the largest threat to soldiers today defending our nation’s values is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

To address this unfortunate state of affairs, the military developed a startup fund open to the public to resolve this issue through technological innovation.  Significant scholarships and research funding was provided for researchers interested in devoting time to creating a means towards mitigating the psychological crisis.  A risky but intriguing proof of concept was eventually presented: the creation of a revolutionary entertainment for the troops as they fought the terrorist threat.

Yowane Haku became the face of this entertainment: a mobile holographic pop star engineered specifically for psychological distraction on the battlefield.  

The world’s most talented engineers, design consultants, and pop writing teams were assembled to enshrine Haku with every aesthetic and technical element to impress not only the troops, but the world with her next-generation technology.  However, the initial test-run of this mobile holographic pop medium in combat trials was….a failure.  

On the battlefield, Haku’s perfect body glowed faintly amongst the dust and screams, bullets and explosions passing ineffectually, dance moves precise, vocalizations on point. But ultimately her pop music performance lacked resonance with the battle.  Instead of the soldiers being emboldened by this new entertainment, which was intended to distract or inspire them from their gruesome tasks, their adverse psychological symptoms…flourished.  Some of the men went mad, laughing maniacally in tune with the holographic presence smiling sweetly at them.  It was only due to the superiority of our AI weaponry and automated drone operation that the morally corrupt foreign threat, with their violent and technologically crude methods, were stopped that day. The minds of our soldiers were lost.

Months later, a young pool of startup professionals would provide another solution.  This vocal minority of engineers…though others called them crazy….had a hunch. For the hologram pop star to “work,” her systems needed access pure emotion, to link a human element with the trauma of the human soldiers.  But it was not clear who, or what, could best provide this emotional link…and what amount of embodied “disruption” this might entail…

This enthusiastically crowdfunded group of millennials completed their groundbreaking research without the strings of ethics funding or institutional control.  Human emotions and consciousness now flow direct to Haku via experimental trials in VR technology.  Haku rises again on the battlefront.

Simultaneously, a new reality television show has been borne of these first human trials. The star of this reality show could be…….you.

Could you be the next American Sweetheart?  Do you have what it takes to provide 110% Best Emotional Performance?  Join us through advanced VR technologies, Live and Direct on the battlefield, to find out if you could be fit to man the ultimate weapon of war: Our Next Holographic Idol.

This project is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Trinity Square Video’s AMD VR lab

Musicworks #126 Interview

Click here to read my interview with Alex Varty.  “ERIN GEE SINGS THE BODY ELECTRONIC”

Fresh on the heels of my return from the premiere of Echo Grey in Vancouver (my newest composition for vocal quartet, feedback soloist and tape), I find I’ve received my physical copy of Musicworks, which is a triannually released publication featuring experimental sounds from across Canada.

Amidst a really massive transition phase right now, I find that teaching full time has really changed what I can do as an artist.  Pushing myself to learn entirely new skillsets in organization and pedagogical performance (sidenote: yes, everything is a performance) has left me with little time or energy to invest in building new technologies.

Music composition has been something that I can invest time into, as all I need is a few moments, a microphone, my laptop, a notepad with pencil scribbles, my imagination.

This interview with Musicworks magazine was very interesting for me, as recently my opportunities have been coming from music composition.  The whole issue is actually very interesting, with a full feature on music and sound revolution in VR spaces, as well as some features on other very energetic and productive electroacoustic artists.

Musicworks #126 is available now with a special curated cd of sounds included in the physical magazine.  On this CD you can find a track from my Voice of Echo (2011) series.

Conversations in Contemporary Art

Conversations in Contemporary Art Presents Erin Gee: Concordia University, Montreal

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 6pm

Le jeudi 11 fevrier à 18h00

Concordia University Fine Arts
VA Building 114
1395 René Lévesque Blvd West, Montreal
L’université de Concordia, 1395 René Lévesque Ouest, Montréal

http://goo.gl/maps/L9uSV

www.finearts.concordia.ca

Admission for all Conversations in Contemporary Art events is FREE and open to the general public. Seating is first come, first serve. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The lectures will be held in English.

Tous les événements du programme Conversation in Contemporary Art sont gratuits et ouverts au public. Les sièges sont assignés selon le principe du premier arrivé, premier servi. Les portes ouvrent à 17h30. Les conférences se dérouleront en anglais.

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ERIN GEE is a Montreal-based artist and composer who explores human voices in electronic bodies, re-locating boundaries of musical form through technological interfaces. Her work in emotion-driven musical robotics, algorithmic music performance, interactive sonic sculpture/scores and digitally-inspired musical compositions have been recently presented at device_art festival, Croatia (2015), University of Toronto Art Center (2015), Trinity Square Video, Toronto (2015), Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal (2015), and Cirque du Soleil International Headquarters, Montreal (2014). Her work has been reviewed in Scientific American, VICE, National Post, and La Presse. Gee is currently teaching in the Communications department of Concordia University on topics of sound, gender and technology.
“There are layers of interrelation that all humans have, where we are objectified, reduced to our utility, treated as objects rather than subjects, reacting to and acting through a subject or group of people more powerful than we are. I want to make work that tries to bridge the gap, to create musical systems and worlds where the subject tries to learn the language of the object, to assume that the thing we assumed to be an object in fact has a voice, and it is important to listen.”

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Artiste et compositrice établie à Montréal, Erin Gee explore les voix humaines des corps électroniques, repoussant les frontières de la musique au moyen d’interfaces technologiques. Ses œuvres – robots musicaux mus par les émotions, performance musicale algorithmique, sculptures ou partitions soniques interactives ainsi que compositions d’inspiration numérique – ont récemment été présentées en Croatie, au Festival Device_art (2015), à Toronto, au Centre d’art de l’Université de Toronto (2015) et au centre Trinity Square Video (2015), et à Montréal, au Musée d’art contemporain (2015) et au siège social international du Cirque du Soleil (2014). Son travail a fait l’objet d’articles dans Scientific American, VICE, National Post et La Presse. Par ailleurs, son enseignement au Département de communication de l’Université Concordia touche au son, au genre et à la technologie.

« Tous les humains entretiennent diverses relations réciproques selon lesquelles ils sont réduits à leur plus simple utilité. Traités comme des objets, plutôt que des sujets, ils agissent par l’intermédiaire d’un individu ou d’un groupe plus puissant qu’ils ne le sont et y réagissent. Je m’efforce dans mon œuvre de combler ce fossé en créant des systèmes et des mondes musicaux où le sujet tente d’apprendre le langage de l’objet. En effet, je crois que ce que nous supposons être un objet possède en fait une voix qu’il est important d’écouter. »
About the event: Conversations in Contemporary Art is a visiting artist lecture series and graduate-level course sponsored by Concordia’s Studio Arts MFA Program. CICA provides a unique opportunity to hear distinguished artists, critics, writers and curators from the Canadian and international community speak about their practices.

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