Swarming Emotional Pianos Tag

esse 93 magazine

My work Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in an essay 93 – Printemps / été 2018 esse magazine written by Lindsay Leblanc. The essay features two Canadian media artists that I respect very much, David Rokeby and Jean-Pierre Gauthier.  Following is an abstract:

Sketchy Machines: Propositions Around Three Robotic Artworks

With the increasing presence of machines in public and private life, we continue to find new ways of articulating our relationships with them. In this article, the author uses the sketch as a frame of analysis for machine artworks by Canadian artists David Rokeby, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, and Erin Gee, and argues that the sketch is a fundamentally interdisciplinary and material state that accounts for machines’ complex engagements with human and other-than-human agents. Highlighting the sketch’s unfinished, imperfect, and adaptable qualities, the author attempts to define a “sketchy materiality” as it occurs in robotic art.
Lindsay LeBlanc

To learn more, or to purchase this magazine as a digital PDF  –
http://esse.ca/en/sketch

Vocales Digitales

Erin Gee
Vocales Digitales
March 26 – May 14

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 26, 2:00-4:00pm

Artist Talk and Catalogue Launch: April 23, 2:00pm
Biosensor/Arduino Workshop: April 24, 10 am (full day) $25 registration required
Original Performance with Daniel Àñez and the Hamilton Children’s Choir (June 25, 2016)

Hamilton Artists Inc. is pleased to present Vocales Digitales, a solo exhibition by new media artist and composer Erin Gee, featuring installations exploring the potentials of human voices in electronic bodies as well as electronic voices in human bodies. Based on a robust research practice, Gee draws from neuroaesthetics, a field that investigates the potentials of neurological and physiological data, as both the basis of, and inspiration for, her technologically complex installations. Turning the inside out, Gee culls data from physiological sources such as the human larynx as well as intangible sources such as human emotions, and transforms them into highly realized aesthetic and musical compositions. Using languages of notation, code, and data, Gee explores the flesh and experience of human bodies, seeking out poetic languages of machine visualization to return the quantitative once more into a space of aesthetics through the experience of music.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual publication featuring essays by Maiko Tanaka and Eric Lewis. The catalogue launch will be accompanied by an artist talk and will take place April 23, at 2:00 pm. The catalogue can be downloaded HERE (4.5mb).

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

Swarming Emotional Pianos is an installation that features a large, looming projection of a human face surrounded by a set of six musical chime robots.

The projected face is that of an actor (Laurence Dauphinais or Matthew Keyes), who for 20 minutes moves between extreme emotional states of surprise, fear, anger, sadness, sexual arousal, and joy in 5 minute intervals. During the actor’s performance, Gee hooked the performer up to a series of biosensors that monitored how heart rate, sweat, and respiration changed between her emotional states.

The music that the robots surrounding the projection screen play as the actress moves between emotional states is in reaction to these physiological responses: the musical tones and rhythms shift and intensify as heart rate, sweat bursts, blood flow and respiration change in the actress. While the musical result is almost alien to assumptions of what emotional music might sound like, one might encounter the patterns as an abstracted lie-detector test that displays the unique internal fluctuations of the actress that move beneath the surface of her large, projected face. Does emotion lie within the visibility of facial expression, or somewhere in the audible made audible, the patterns of bodily sensation in her body? Is the actor sincere in her performance if the emotion is felt as opposed to displayed? Micro bursts of emotional sentiment are thus amplified by the robots, providing an intimate and abstract soundtrack for this “emotional movie”.

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.

Custom open-source biosensors that collect heartrate and signal amplitude, respiration amplitude and rate, and galvanic skin response (sweat) have been in development by Gee since 2012.  Click here to access her GitHub page if you would like to try the technology for yourself, or contribute to the research.

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