emotion Tag

Review in Canadian Art

I really appreciate this article by Tatum Dooley for Canadian Art on the Worldbuilding exhibition curated by John G Hampton and Maiko Tanaka at Trinity Square Video. My work Project H.E.A.R.T. which highlights VR and emotions made with Alex M Lee is featured, among other great works by Jeremy Bailey Kristen D Schaffer Eshrat Erfanian and Yam Lau.  Following is an excerpt from the article:

“The gamification of our bodies renders the physical form void, replaced by screens where our bodies and emotions can be morphed and manipulated. Perhaps the only way to create art with technology as advanced and recent as VR is to reckon with its potential consequences.

Gee’s project, the most realized out of the four artists in the exhibition, masters this reckoning. I spoke with Gee in the lead-up to the exhibition, and she explained the conceptual backbone of the piece. “I’m working through questions of emotional sincerity when it comes to self-help. In theory, if you can technologically master your emotions, if you can just make yourself excited, then you can make yourself a better, happier person. I don’t know how sincere that is…”

Click on the link below for the full article.

VR and the Failure of Self-Help Technology

In general, I feel very proud of this work but also very exhausted by it.  The work is matched in technical complexity by its conceptual complexity, as I conflate pop music with war, self help with sincerity, and ultimately I’m working through these issues of performativity in play and life.  During the panel for the exhibition, there was a question of whether I was “pro-war”, and it’s one that I have received a few times in facebook messages from curious friends from far away, so it’s obviously something that needs a bit of addressing.  I personally am not pro-war.  However I also am also dissatisfied at the idea of an artistic protest that makes a cartoonish, didactic utopia where rainbows and love shoot out of guns instead of flesh-tearing bullets.  The project is complex and confused and vague because I think it has to be.  I  do not understand “real” war, for starters.   I have never served my country in any military: I’m a millennial woman born on the Canadian prairies raised in relative privilege that went to art school.  The best I can understand is how war is mediated to me: through video games and news cycles, through abstract discussions of other people on the radio. In this way I don’t think that the goal of this project was ever to address the terror and complexity of geopolitical conflict, but rather, to propose a psychedelic pop culture mirror, imagining a video game ruled not by characters that espouse self-righteous violence and grit, but technologically manipulated empathy and enthusiasm.  This game fails to address war in the same way that all technologically mediated attempts to do so likely fail to address war.  I guess a part of me is wondering if perhaps maybe it’s easier to question and hate this version however because it’s feminized.

Project H.E.A.R.T.

Project H.E.A.R.T. is the code name for the Holographic Empathy Attack Robotics Team, a biosensor-driven virtual reality artwork developed by Erin Gee in collaboration with 3D artist Alex M. Lee for use with the Oculus Rift.  The game was commissioned by Trinity Square Video for the exhibition Worldbuilding in November 2017.

A twist on popular “militainment” shooter video games, Project H.E.A.R.T. invites the viewer to place their fingers on a biodata gathering device and then summon their enthusiasm in order to direct their avatar, Yowane Haku, in “combat therapy.” The biosensor device gathers the human player’s positivity and energy to drive Haku’s voice forward to boost morale as soldiers battle not only against a group of enemies, but also against their own lack of confidence and rising anxiety.

Fans of the Vocaloid characters may recognize Haku as the “bad copy” of Japanese pop celebrity Hatsune Miku, a holographic personnage that invites her fans to pour their content and songs into her virtual voice.

 

 

As Kathryn Hamilton pointed out in her 2017 essay “Voyeur Realism” for New Inquiry,

“VR’s genesis and development is in the military, where it has been used to train soldiers in “battle readiness,” a euphemism for: methods to overcome the innate human resistance to firing at another human being. In the last few years, VR’s usage has shifted 180 degrees from a technology used to train soldiers for war, to one that claims to “amplify” the voices afflicted by war, and to affect “world influencers” who might be able to stop said wars.”

The colorful landscape of the game was built from from geopolitically resonant sites found on Google Maps, creating a dreamlike background for the warzone. In-game dialogue wavers between self-righteous soldier banter typical of video games, and self-help, bringing the VR participant to an interrogation of their own emotional body in a virtual space that conflates war, pop music, video games, emotional investment, and virtual-movement induced nausea.

Photography by Toni Hafkenscheid.  Images of Worldbuilding exhibition courtesy of Trinity Square Video, 2017.

Credits

Narrative Design: Sofian Audry, Roxanne Baril-Bédard, Erin Gee

3D Art: Alex Lee and Marlon Kroll

Animation and Rigging: Nicklas Kenyon and Alex Lee

VFX: Anthony Damiani, Erin Gee, Nicklas Kenyon

Programming: Sofian Audry, Erin Gee, Nicklas Kenyon, Jacob Morin

AI Design: Sofian Audry

Sound Design: Erin Gee, Austin Haughton, Ben Hinckley, Ben Leavitt, Nicolas Ow

BioSensor Hardware Design: Erin Gee and Martin Peach

BioSensor Case Design: Grégory Perrin

BioSensor Hardware Programming: Thomas Ouellet Fredericks, Erin Gee, Martin Peach

Featuring music by Lazerblade, Night Chaser and Austin Haughton

Yowane Haku character designed by CAFFEIN

Yowane Haku Cyber model originally created by SEGA for Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA 2nd (2010)

Project H.E.A.R.T. also features the vocal acting talents of Erin Gee, Danny Gold, Alex Lee, Ben McCarthy, Gregory Muszkie, James O’Calloghan, and Henry Adam Svec.

Thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and AMD Radeon, this project was commissioned by Trinity Square Video for the exhibition Worldbuilding, curated by John G Hampton and Maiko Tanaka.

This project would have not been possible without the logistical and technical support of the following organizations:

Technoculture Art and Games Lab (Concordia University)

Concordia University

ASAP Media Services (University of Maine)

WorldBuilding: TSV Toronto

My work made in collaboration with 3D artist Alex M. Lee for VR and emotional-biosensors, Project H.E.A.R.T. (2017) was debuted on November 5th at Trinity Square Video, Toronto.

This project was commissioned by TSV by curators John Hampton and Maiko Tanaka, thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. The exhibition also features amazing works by Canadian artists Jeremy Bailey and Kristen Schaffer, Eshrat Erfanian, and Yam Lau.

You can see Worldbuilding for yourself from November 3rd – December 9th 2017 at Trinity Square Video, 401 Richmond, Toronto Canada.

Worldbuilding was declared a “must-see” show by Canadian Art magazine!

Visit the Worldbuilding website by clicking here.

 

Algorithms that Matter Residency: Austria

I’ve been selected to be a featured artist in residence at the Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik (IEM) in Graz, Austria, participating in the Algorithms that Matter Residency.  This residency will take place in April-June 2018, and even though it’s a year away I want to share the incredible news!

From the ALMAT website:

“Algorithms that Matter is an artistic research project by Hanns Holger Rutz and David Pirrò.  It aims at understanding the increasing influence of algorithms, translating them into aesthetic positions in sound, building a new perspective on algorithm agency by subjecting the realm of algorithms to experimentation.

Almat is grounded in the idea that algorithms are agents that co-determine the boundary between an artistic machine or “apparatus” and the object produced through this machine. The central question is: How do algorithmic processes emerge and structure the praxis of experimental computer music? The hypothesis is that these processes, instead of being separated from the composer—as generators and transformers of infinite shapes—exhibit a specific force that retroacts and changes the very praxis of composition and performance.”

 

Exploring these algorithms as unique electronic voices will extend my reach into exciting new territories, I am excited to play at the IEM and make unique new emotional sounds that combine physiological markers of emotion with algorithmic agencies.

MediaLive Festival 2017

Happy to announce that I will be presenting a new version of my “BioSynth” at the MediaLive festival (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) in May.  This year’s festival features an amazing group of artists, gathering under the theme THE VOID.  For this upcoming performance I will be moving towards a more sophisticated sonic treatment of the physiological signals, and returning to the ideas of “choir” and “vocality” of emotion that I began with my earlier work “Song of Seven: BioChoir” with the Hamilton Children’s Choir.

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.

Song of Seven: Biochoir

In this song, young performers contemplate an emotional time in their lives, and recount this memory as an improvised vocal solo.The choir is instructed to enter into a meditative state during these emotional solos, deeply listening to the tale and empathizing with the soloist, using imagination to recreate the scene.  Choir members are attached to a musical instrument I call the BioSynth a small synthesizer that sonifies heartbeats and sweat release for each individual member to pre-programmed tones. Sweat release, often acknowledged as a robust measure of emotional engagement, is signaled by overtones that appear and reappear over a drone; meanwhile the heartbeats of each chorister are sounded according to blood flow, providing a light percussion.

The musical score combines traditional music notation with vocal games and rhythms determined not necessarily by the conductor or score but by beatings of the heart and bursts of sweat. Discreet flashing lights on the synthesizer boxes in front of the choristers allowed the singers to discern the rhythms and patterns of their heart and sweat glands, which therefore permits compositions to incorporate the rhythms of the body into the final score as markers that trigger sonic events.

This choral composition was workshopped over a one-week residency at the LIVELab (McMaster University) with selected members of the Hamilton Children’s Choir, and facilitated by Hamilton Artists Inc. with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

For more information

Hamilton Children's Choir
Daniel Àñez (Spanish biography)
Hamilton Artists' Inc
LIVElab
Canada Council for the Arts

Piano accompanist: Daniel Àñez
Hardware design: Martin Peach
Software design:Nicholas Asch, Patrice Coulombe, Erin Gee

New Work for Hamilton Children’s Choir

 

On June 25th 2016 I will be premiering new biosensor-driven work created especially for members of the Hamilton Children’s Choir.  This performance work will be presented in conjunction with my solo exhibition Vocales Digitales at Hamilton Artists Inc, thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Hamilton Children’s Choir is a nationally competitive choir of youth  accompanied by pianist Daniel Añez.  Áñez is a renowned pianist in the musical milieu of Canada and Latin America, an active performer of contemporary and experimental music, a touring soloist, and a chamber musician.

This new work will allow me to explore a highly personal composition process with the choir, featuring the sonification of group empathy as seen through physiological markers of emotion such as heartrate, respiration and sweat release.

For more information

Hamilton Children’s Choir

Daniel Añez (Spanish Biography)

Hamilton Artists Inc

Canada Council for the Arts

 

 

Artist talk and Catalogue Launch for Vocales Digitales

I will be giving an artist talk on Saturday April 23rd at Hamilton Artists’ Inc. to support my solo exhibition Vocales Digitales.  The event will also feature a catalogue launch, featuring a bilingual publication that includes essays by philosopher Eric Lewis and curator Maiko Tanaka.

The next day on Sunday April 24th I will be giving an artists’ workshop that introduces the Teensy microcontroller through basic electronics and biosensors.

 

New VR artwork commission from Trinity Square Video

I’m thrilled to announce that Trinity Square Video will be presenting new artworks for Virtual Reality interfaces in 2016-2017, including a new commissioned work by myself!  The work will feature pop music’s potential military applications in a first-person shooter style video game – expect autotuned voices, virtual pop stars, and new embodiments of my emotional biosensor hardware to take shape in this new work.

The project will feature Alex M. Lee as head artistic designer as well as work by Marlon Kroll and Roxanne Baril-Bédard.  I’ll continue to post teasers, hardware updates and more through this summer 2016!