robotics Tag

Review: Akimblog, Canada

The first review for my solo exhibition To the Sooe at the MacKenzie Art Gallery is here!  To the Sooe is on view until April 19th in Regina, Canada.

“Gee delivers the output in ASMR style through role play and a sound performance that leave you both mesmerized and tingling to your core. The sterile white walls and scientific jargon of the exhibition texts should not deter you from this immersive and sensory experience. Gee’s complex communication configurations require your time, patience and an open mind.” -Alexa Heenan, Akimblog

Click here to read the full review

esse magazine spring 2018

My work Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in an essay written by Lindsay Leblanc in esse magazine 93 – Printemps / été 2018. The essay also features two 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  –
https://esse.ca/en/sketch

Erin Gee - Swarming Emotional Pianos

Swarming Emotional Pianos

A looming projection of a human performer surrounded by six musical chime robots: their music is driven by the shifting rhythms of the performer’s emotional body, transformed into data and signal that activates the motors of the ensemble.

(2012 – ongoing)

Aluminium tubes, servo motors, custom mallets, Arduino-based electronics, iCreate platforms

Approximately 27” x 12” x 12” each

Swarming Emotional Pianos is a robotic installation work that features performance documentation of an actress moving through extreme emotions in five minute intervals. During these timed performances of extreme surprise, anger, fear, sadness, sexual arousal, and joy, Gee used her own custom-built biosensors to capture the way that each emotion affects the heartbeat, sweat, and respiration of the actress. The data from this session drives the musical outbursts of the robotics surrounding the video documentation of the emotional session. Visitors to this work are presented with two windows into the emotional state of the actress: both through a large projection of her face, paired with stereo recording of her breath and sounds of the emotional session, and through the normally inaccessible emotional world of physiology, the physicality of sensation as represented by the six robotic chimes.

Micro bursts of emotional sentiment are amplified by the robots, providing an intimate and abstract soundtrack for this “emotional movie”. These mechanistic, physiological effects of emotion drive the robotics, illustrating the physicality and automation of human emotion. By displaying both of these perspectives on human emotion simultaneously, I am interested in how the rhythmic pulsing of the robotic bodies confirm or deny the visibility and performativity of the face. Does emotion therefore lie within the visibility of facial expression, or in the patterns of bodily sensation in her body? Is the actor sincere in her performance if the emotion is felt as opposed to displayed?

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:

  • In loving memory of Martin Peach (my robot teacher) – Sébastien Roy (lighting circuitry) – Peter van Haaften (tools for algorithmic composition in Max/MSP) – Grégory Perrin (Electronics Assistant)
  • Jason Leith, Vivian Li, Mark Lowe, Simone Pitot, Matt Risk, and Tristan Stevans for their dedicated help in the studio
  • 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

Erin Gee and Stelarc - Orpheux Larynx

Orpheux Larnyx

(2011)

Vocal work for three artificial voices and soprano, feat. Stelarc.

Music by Erin Gee, text by Margaret Atwood.

I made Orpheux Larynx while in residence at the MARCs Auditory Laboratories at the University of Western Sydney, Australia in the summer of 2011. I was invited by Stelarc to create a performance work with an intriguing device he was developing there called the Prosthetic Head, a computerized conversational agent that responds to keyboard-based chat-input with an 8-bit baritone voice. I worked from the idea of creating a choir of Stelarcs, and developed music for three voices by digitally manipulating the avatar’s voice. Eventually Stelarc’s avatar voices were given the bodies of three robots: a mechanical arm, a modified segueway, and a commercially available device called a PPLbot. I sang along with this avatar-choir, while carrying my own silent avatar with me on a djgital screen.

It is said that after Orpheus’ head was ripped from his body, he continued singing as his head floated down a river. He was rescued by two nymphs, who lifted his head to the heavens, to become a star. In this performance, all the characters (Stelarc’s, my voice, Orpheus, Euridice, the nymphs) are blended into intersubjective robotic shells that speak and sing on our behalf. The flexibility of the avatar facilitates a pluratity of voices to emerge from relatively few physical bodies, blending past subjects into present but also possible future subjects. Orpheus is tripled to become a multi-headed Orpheux, simultaneously disembodied head, humanoid nymph, deceased Euridice. The meaning of the work is in the dissonant proximity between the past and present characters, as well as my own identity inhabiting the bodies and voices of Stelarc’s prosthetic self.

Credits

Music, video and performance by Erin Gee. Lyrics “Orpheus (1)” and “Orpheus (2)” by Margaret Atwood. Robotics by Damith Herath. Technical Support by Zhenzhi Zhang (MARCs Robotics Lab, University of Western Sydney). Choreography coaching by Staci Parlato-Harris.

Special thanks to Stelarc and Garth Paine for their support in the creation of the project.

This research project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and MARCS Auditory Labs at the University of Western Sydney. The Thinking Head project is funded by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Music: Orpheux Larynx © 2011 . Lyrics are the poems by Margaret Atwood: “Orpheus (1)” and “Orpheus (2)”, from the poetry collection Selected Poems, 1966 – 1984 currently published by Oxford University Press © 1990 by Margaret Atwood. In the United States, the poems appear in Selected Poems II, 1976 – 1986currently published by Houghton Mifflin © 1987 by Margaret Atwood. In the UK, these poems appear in Eating Fire, Selected Poetry 1965 – 1995 currently published by Virago Press, ©1998 by Margaret Atwood. All rights reserved.