Erin Gee 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.

Ideas Lab Denmark

I will be giving a unique and in-depth workshop hosted by Emotional Data Lab (Aarhus University), Interactive Denmark and Ideas Lab in Aarhus, Denmark from November 21-23.  The workshop consists of 3 three-hour sessions where I will share my materials and experiences with incorporating physiological markers of emotion into the VR-compatible Unity environment.

Participants will be placed into “teams” in order to work together, experiment, and discuss the promises, problems and potential of using biosensors to capture a user’s emotional experience through digital tools.

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)

William Basinski @ Pop Montreal

September 15th, 2017 – 17h POP Box (3450 St Urbain, Montreal)

In the context of this year’s Pop Montreal Festival Symposium, I have been invited to engage in a public conversation with avant-garde composer William Basinski .

Click here for more information on the Pop Symposium, taking place September 14-17, 2017.

Creator of the widely acclaimed album set Disintegration Loops (2002), Basinski is an intuitive composer of ambient electronic music who works work magnetic tape loops to access dreamlike acoustic spaces.  He once described himself as investing incredible amounts of meditative energy towards improvisation and locating the “timeless, amniotic bubble” of sound one could float within. A bubble is an apt metaphor for these sounds: expansive, swirling voids that physically emanate from thin slips of magnetic tape.

Among other topics, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to speak with Basinski about the physicality of sound, both in the sound producing bodies (the magnetic devices he charms into circles and feedback-song) and the receptive media bodies (us leaky humans).

Take a listen below to Basinski’s soundcloud account in order to experience his processes in tape loop and delay systems, found sounds, feedback, and shortwave radio static.

BioSolo

Using the BioSynth, I improvised a set for my breath/voice and my sonified heart and sweat release at No Hay Banda in an evening that also featured the very interesting work of composer Vinko Globokar (Russia).  The improvisation is very sparing, the goal is to exploit interesting rhythmic moments between heavy breath-song and the heartbeat, all the while exploring limits of respiratory activity and seeing what effect it has on my physiology.

Photography: Wren Noble

BioSolo was first performed at No Hay Banda series in Montreal at La Sala Rossa, organized by Daniel Àñez and Noam Bierstone.

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.

NO HAY BANDA Montréal

Erin Gee – solo vocal performance November 28th 2016 – Sala Rossa, Montreal with Vinko Globocar

As part of NO HAY BANDA programming series with the support of Suoni Per Il Popolo.

More information:

NO HAY BANDA is a series of live musical events that aims to provide new outlets for artistic innovation and expression. Presented with the support of Suoni Per Il Popolo, programmes are designed to broaden and challenge the musical experience of the audience, showcasing the work of the young avant-garde that takes its roots in pop/rock, DIY culture and post-war experimentation.

NO HAY BANDA est une série de concerts qui incite à remettre en question les conceptions conventionnelles de la musique et de la performance, dans le but de créer de nouvelles voies pour l’expression artistique. Présentés avec l’appui de Suoni Per Il Popolo, nos programmes mettent en vedette des propositions de la jeune avant-garde, qui prend ses racines dans le pop/rock, la culture DIY et la musique expérimentale d’après-guerre.

La programmation de NO HAY BANDA cherche à promouvoir l’esthétique d’une nouvelle avant-garde internationale afin de produire des spectacles de ce genre pour la première fois à Montréal. Cette proposition est tirée des réseaux avec lesquels les membres ont été impliqués lors d’activités récentes en Europe et en Amérique.

NO HAY BANDA est un collectif d’artistes formé par trois interprètes de musique nouvelle basés à Montréal : Geneviève Liboiron, Noam Bierstone et Daniel Áñez. À travers notre expérience en création musicale et artistique, nous cherchons à créer un espace de concerts ouvert à un public diversifié où les expériences sonores priment.

NO HAY BANDA promeut la musique née d’une génération qui ne voit plus de barrières entre les différents genres musicaux, le théâtre, l’art performatif et la culture contemporaine. Chaque concert présentera un acte principal de 45-60 minutes avec un contenu international important, précédé par un acte d’ouverture de 20-30 minutes mettant en vedette des jeunes artistes sonores canadiens.

NO HAY BANDA veut devenir une institution dans la programmation musicale montréalaise et canadienne et l’option la plus avant-gardiste en ville. Le collectif est à la musique ce que la galerie d’art indépendante est aux arts visuels; la différence entre le musée et la galerie est toujours claire : le musée expose les œuvres historiques tandis que la galerie propose la créativité et l’innovation. Ainsi, nous oserons être la galerie en musique de l’innovation internationale et de l’avant-garde radicale à Montréal.

Fall Commission for Exo/Endo and Ilk

This fall 2016 the performing groups Exo/Endo and Ilk will premiere a new music composition by Erin Gee in three Canadian venues in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary.  This new work is intended to be an extension of Gee’s work Voice of Echo (2011).  Stemming from a solo performance of this work in 2015 in Toronto at Trinity Square Video (What can a Vocaloid Do?), Gee will newly re-create materials based on vocaloid creatures, artificial intelligence, electronic voices in human bodies, authorship, subjectivity, embodiment, voice and agency telematically using a system developed by Michael Palumbo.  This work will employ five singers, and an experimental turntableist and extended bass player.

Exo/Endo is Andrea Young (voice and electronics), Michael Day (prepared turntables/percussion) Braden Diotte (multi-instrumentalist, agitated electric bass and electronics)

Ilk is Sara Sinclair Gomez, Sharon Kim, Micaela Tobin, and Andrea Young

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