Research

Pop Montreal

I will be part of a panel of artists as part of the Pop Montreal Symposium to discuss ASMR from artistic/scientific perspectives, come out to see me talking about my number one passion right now, also featuring…

Philippe Battikha holds a BFA in Integrative Music Studies and an MFA in Studio Arts (Interme-dia Concentration) from Concordia University. He is the co-founder of the Samizdat Records (SZR) label, based in Montreal and Brooklyn.

Jann Tomaro (Detroit/Montreal) is a doctoral student, researcher, and mental health practitioner who facilitates //practice//, a series using psychoacoustic properties of noise and sound to guide group meditations.

Click here for the facebook link to the event

Details!

What’s That Noise? ASMR For The Uninitiated
28 SEPT, 12 H 30, Piccolo Rialto

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is the static-like, tingling experience that people experience as a sensory response to auditory stimulus. ASMR has become a movement of its own in recent years, with the development of entire online communities of creators composing audio specifically tailored to produce pleasurable and relaxing effects for their audiences. So what’s the science behind ASMR? And where does it fit in the long tradition of “Brain Music,” from binaural beats to Muzak, through noise, musique concrète, and experimental sound art?

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C’est quoi ce bruit? L’ASMR pour les néophytes
Le 28 sept à 12 h 30 Piccolo Rialto

La réponse autonome sensorielle méridienne (ou ASMR pour Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) est une réponse sensorielle au stimulus auditif qui se manifeste sous forme de pico-tement ou d’électricité statique. L’ASMR est devenu un véritable mouvement en soi au cours des dernières années à travers le développement de communautés digitales de créateur·rice·s qui créent des pièces élaborées afin de susciter un effet plaisant et relaxant pour l’auditeur·rice. Quelle est la science derrière l’ASMR? Et quelle est sa place dans la longue tradition de « mu-sique cérébrale », allant des sons binauraux à la Muzak et passant du bruit à la musique concrète et à l’art sonore expérimental?

Erin Gee est une artiste qui travaille dans la composition chorale, les interfaces de données bio-métriques, la robotique et l’ASMR, explorant la culture numérique à travers les métaphores des voix humaines dans des corps électroniques. Dans sa pratique, Gee s’inspire des approches fé-ministes et posthumanistes qui remettent en question les concepts traditionnels de la conscience humaine.

Philippe Battikha est titulaire d’un baccalauréat en Études des musiques intégratives et d’une maîtrise en Studio Arts (concentration Intermedia) de l’Université Concordia. Il a bénéficié de nombreuses bourses et distinctions, dont le programme d’accompagnement et de mentorat du MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels). Il est co-fondateur de l’étiquette Samizdat Records (SZR), ba-sée à Montréal et à Brooklyn. De 2008 à 2012, il a été membre fondateur du projet d’artistes L’Envers à Montréal.

 

 

ASAP Journal

Happy to announce that my short article on machine learning, ASMR and sound “Automation as Echo” written with Sofian Audry is now published in ASAP/Journal 4.2 in a collection of articles assembled by Jennifer Rhee covering automation from diverse/creative/critical perspectives.

From the article:

“The echo is a metaphor that goes beyond sound, speaking to the physical and temporal gaps in human-computer interaction that open up a space of aesthetic consumption problematized by the impossibility of comprehending machine perspectives on human terms. The echo unfolds in time, but most importantly it unfolds in space: sound travels as a physical interaction between a subject and an object that seemingly “speaks back.”

The mythological nymph Echo “speaks” or “performs” her subjectivity through reflection or imitation of the voice of human Narcissus. Her (incomplete, sometimes humorous, sometimes uncannily resemblant) nonhuman voice is dependent on the human subject, who is also the progenitor of her speech. The relationship between these two mythological entities creates an apt metaphor for machine learning: its processes are not of the human, yet its “neural” functions are crafted in imitation of and in response to human thought. As machine subjectivity is crafted from human subjectivity, we cannot grasp its machined voice, nor perceive its subjective position, through analysis of its various textual, sonic, visual, and robotic outputs alone. Rather, the “voice” of machine learning is fleeting, heard through the spaces, the gaps, the movements between the machine and the human, the vibrational color of nonhuman noise.”

ABOUT ASAP JOURNAL

ASAP/Journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by John Hopkins University Press that explores new developments in post-1960s visual, media, literary, and performance arts. The scholarly publication of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, ASAP/Journal promotes intellectual exchange between artists and critics across the arts and humanities. The journal publishes methodologically cutting-edge, conceptually adventurous, and historically nuanced research about the arts of the present.

Canada Council for the Arts Grant

I am proud to announce that I have been awarded a research and creation grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to conduct preliminary research into an interactive installation work involving machine learning (GANs), biosensor data, 3D printed wearables, and method actors. This project is a collaboration with Sofian Audry. I’ll be sure to send you updates as they come!

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council champions and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants, services, prizes and payments to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. It is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO in Canada to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

 

 

Book: Robotic Imaginary

My robotic artwork Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in image and text on p 131-132 of Jennifer Rhee’s newly published book: The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor (2018, University of Minnesota Press).  The image above is just a photo of me relaxing with a coffee as I read the first few pages…

This amazing book details AI from a perspective that is driven by emotion and humanity, while referencing the work and the influence of women and poc in a way I haven’t seen before. I found myself constantly thinking: yes, yes as I read the book!

 

From the official description of the book:

The word robot—introduced in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.—derives from rabota, the Czech word for servitude or forced labor. A century later, the play’s dystopian themes of dehumanization and exploited labor are being played out in factories, workplaces, and battlefields. In The Robotic Imaginary, Jennifer Rhee traces the provocative and productive connections of contemporary robots in technology, film, art, and literature. Centered around the twinned processes of anthropomorphization and dehumanization, she analyzes the coevolution of cultural and technological robots and artificial intelligence, arguing that it is through the conceptualization of the human and, more important, the dehumanized that these multiple spheres affect and transform each other.

Drawing on the writings of Alan Turing, Sara Ahmed, and Arlie Russell Hochschild; such films and novels as Her and The Stepford Wives; technologies like Kismet (the pioneering “emotional robot”); and contemporary drone art, this book explores anthropomorphic paradigms in robot design and imagery in ways that often challenge the very grounds on which those paradigms operate in robotics labs and industry. From disembodied, conversational AI and its entanglement with care labor; embodied mobile robots as they intersect with domestic labor; emotional robots impacting affective labor; and armed military drones and artistic responses to drone warfare, The Robotic Imaginary ultimately reveals how the human is made knowable through the design of and discourse on humanoid robots that are, paradoxically, dehumanized.

 

Click here to view more information on the book at University of Minnesota Press

 

Behavioral Matter Workshop Centre Pompidou, Paris

March 15 – 17  2019 :
“Behavioral Matter” : Public research-creation workshop for international participants

I’ve been invited to participate in a big research-creation party at the Centre Pompidou with many fellow digital romantics, post human dreamers and hyper geeks.  I don’t have that many details beyond the fact that I’m in a group concerned with inter-species communications, and that perhaps I can collaborate with others to communicate with pigeons through my emotional biosensors, harnessing the power of our emotional bodies to simulate pigeon coos, squawks and wingflaps.

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I’m excited to see the great exhibition and also to meet some interesting artist-researchers, I’ll post photos! Information below en français…

15 – 17 mars 2019 :
“Behavioral Matter” : workshop de recherche-création international et public

Au sein du forum du Centre Pompidou, 12 modules thématiques (machine learning, comportement de la brume, internet des objets, matérialisation de données, microbiotes, impression 4D,…),avec la participation de plus de 70 créateurs, chercheurs, étudiants et étudiants-chercheurs.
Centre Pompidou * Forum, en face de la librairie * 11h-19h
Visites organisées les 16 et 17 mars (inscription sur place), restitution publique dimanche 17 mars à 16h.

Le projet “Behavioral Matter“ est mis en place par EnsadLab, le laboratoire de recherche de l’ École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
(EnsAD – Université PSL, dans le cadre de l’exposition #LaFabriqueduVivant (cycle Mutations/Créations 3), avec le soutien de la Chaire « arts & sciences » de l’École polytechnique, de l’École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs – PSL et de la Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso et avec le partenariat du Cluster “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material” de Humboldt State University de Berlin et du fonds PERSPEKTIVE pour l’art contemporain & l’architecture, une initiative du Bureau des arts plastiques de l’INSTITUT FRANÇAIS, soutenu par le Ministère de la Culture et le Goethe-Institut.

Locus Sonus Residency France

I will be developing a new work for VR in the context of a residency at Locus Sonus in Aix-en-Provence starting February 2018 until May 2018.  During these three months I will push the potential of sonified biodata into increasingly posthumanist/non-anthropomorphic territories using virtual architectures as sensorial training ground, as inspired by materialist philosophers such as Jane Bennett and post-humanist Rosi Braidotti.

I thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its financial support of this project.

About Locus Sonus

Locus Sonus is a research group attached to ESAAix (École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence) and the French Ministry for Culture, integrated with PRISM (Perception, Representations, Image, Sound, Music) an interdisciplinary research unit that groups researchers from AMU (Aix Marseille University), CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) as well as ESAAix.

Locus Sonus’ main aim is to explore the continuously evolving relationship between sound, place and usage in an Art/Science tradition. The research methodology includes experimentation with emerging audio technologies particularly those relating to sound transmission, mobilization or spatialisation as well as historical contextualisation of such practices. Locus Sonus accommodates practice-based PhD students enrolled at Aix-Marseille University (« Pratiques et théorie de la création artistique et littéraire » E.D 354).

Locus Sonus’ main field of investigation is entitled New Auditoriums, to be understood here as the different ways in which audiences collectively share a listening experience. Beyond physical spaces such as concert halls or open-air stages, we attribute this description to all systems that enable a shared audio experience. Examples include radio, audio streaming or virtual worlds. We consider that each system has particular (audio and social) qualities that call for artistic enquiry and experimentation, these may in turn lead to different types of artistic practice.

Locus Sonus’ current research focuses on audio in virtual environments (for example New Atlantis) and the transmission and perception of remote soundscapes (for example : Locustream).

About the project

In this project I propose virtual space and spoken word as a means of creating a “speculative” materialism that promotes empathy to (virtual) objects by allowing the viewer to objectify and analyze their own (biodata), making material of the human body itself. I’m interested in exploring the limits of virtual physicality and phenomenological experience through imaginative sonic narrative as well as virtual space, making use of simple 3D objects and architectures dramatically lit, referenced imaginatively through the five senses by the unseen narrative voice in order to maintain the focus on sound: the disconnect between virtual material and sonic suggestion forms a useful perceptual noise (for example, the voice writes on a notepad that is never seen, the sounds of a lab or examination room can fade in and out, lab is never seen). During this residency I would record the spoken word sections inspired by roleplay, personal attention and spoken narrative vocalizations typical to the genre of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a style of sound composition developed largely on the internet that focuses on high frequency noises to create intense feelings of relaxation accompanied by “tingles” felt on the skin. ASMR enthusiasts focus intensely on the physiological reaction of the listener to sound, and so I want to use this voice as a means of loosely describing material agencies of virtual objects as imperative to the expansion of human sensorium. The link between physiological and phenomenological experience and confirmed biofeedback pushes the physical potential of VR into new sonic territories that focus on embodied experience through perceptions of external as well as internal spaces.

Other Residents

I am excited to be working alongside the other residents at Locus Sonus, and learning more about their projects and practices.

raadio caargo (Christophe Aslanian et Aurélia Nardini) – Bourges, FR

Mitchell Herrmann (USA)

New Studio Space

I am proud to say that I have finally begun fulfilling a major life dream of mine and put together my first real physical studio in a little forest somewhere in Maine, USA.  For years I have been making ambitious projects by renting desk space at Eastern Bloc Lab in Montreal, keeping production mostly virtual/small scale, or participating in residencies at various institutions. I’m thrilled to announce that I’m finally investing in tools and space for making, it’s my major announcement for the moment.  So what does one do when they have just finished assembling a fresh minted studio space?  Run away to France to start a new VR project of course!  (haha)  Locus Sonus residency, here I come!  Little studio in the woods, I’ll be back in May!

Algorithms that Matter @ IEM Graz

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 from April-June 2018.

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.”

 

I will use this opportunity to extend my reach into exciting new forms of embodied algorithmicity, developing new techniques for combining physiological markers of emotion with algorithmic agencies.

To learn more about the research and proceedings of this residency, check out scans of my sketchbook, and transcriptions of conversations between myself and the other residents/researchers at IEM, click here to access our open exposition on the Research Catalogue online platform.

 

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

BioPUNKS residency @ UMaine

I have been invited as Research Associate to work with the department of chemical and biological engineering at the University of Maine to initiate a new electronics prototyping group as part of a residency within their department from January until April 2018.

BioPUNKS (Prototyping Ur New Knowledge of Sensors) is an extra-curricular electronics workshop that meets once a week, and is open to all chemical and biological students from freshman to senior.

Based on core values of Sharing, Learning, and Curiosity, our goals are to:

  1. Learn from each other
  2. Develop unique student-led projects at the frontier of bioengineering and electronics
  3. Develop open-source tools for the larger DIY community.

For more information, click here to access the BioPUNKS website

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, AI designer Sofian Audry, 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