sonification Tag

Presence

(March 2020) I was quarantining intensely during the coronavirus pandemic when Jen Kutler reached out to me asking if I would like to collaborate on a new work that simulates presence and attention over the network.  We have never met in real life, but we started talking on the internet every day. We eventually built a musical structure that implicates live webcam, endoscopic camera footage, biosensor data, sounds rearranged by biosensor data, ASMR roleplay and touch stimulation devices delivering small shocks to each artist. We developed this work at first through a month-long intensive online residency at SAW Video, while in conversation with many amazing artists, curators and creative people.

In Presence, artists Erin Gee and Jen Kutler reconfigure voice and touch across the internet through a haptic/physical feedback loop, using affective and physical telematics to structure an immersive electronic soundscape through physiological response.

Technical diagram for Presence, Erin Gee and Jen Kutler 2020

Presence is a telematic music composition for two bodies created during the Spring of 2020, at the height of confinement and social distancing during the COVID19 epidemic in Montreal and New York state. This work has been performed for online audiences by both artists while at home (Montreal/New York), featuring Gee and Kutler each attached to biosensors that collect the unconscious behaviours of their autonomic nervous systems, as well as touch simulation units that make this data tactile for each artist through transcutaneous nerve simulation.

Audiences are invited to listen attentively this networked session for physicalized affect through the sonification of each artists’ biodata, which also slowly triggers an ASMR roleplay that is actively reconfigured by the bodily reactions of each artist. Music and transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation is triggered by listening bodies: these bodies are triggered by the sounds and electric pulses, everything in the system is unconscious, triggering and triggered by each other through networked delays, but present. Through this musical intervention the artists invite the listeners to imagine the experience and implicate their own bodies in the networked transmission, to witness the artists touching the borders of themselves and their physical spaces while in isolation. 

Technical Credits

web socket for puredata (wspd) created for Presence by Michael Palumbo. Available on Github here.

Biodata circuitry and library created by Erin Gee. Available on Github here.

Electronic touch stimulation device for MIDI created by Jen Kutler. Available on Github here.

Performance built with a combination of puredata (data routing), Processing (biodata generated visuals), Ableton Live (sounds) and OBS (live telematics) by Erin Gee and Jen Kutler.

Performance and Exhibition History

SAW Video “Stay at Home” Residency March-April 2020

Network Music Festival July 17 2020

Fonderie Darling – As part of Allegorical Circuits for Human Software curated by Laurie Cotton Pigeon. August 13 2020

 

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)