Music for Flesh II
Interactive music performance for enhanced body (Xth Sense Bionsensing Technology)
Music for Flesh II (MFII) is a seamless mediation between human biosonic potential and algorithmic composition.
The piece is based on the Xth Sense (XS), a biophysical system recently awarded the first prize in the Margaret Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition as the “world’s most innovative new musical instrument” at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (USA).
By enabling a computer to sense and amplify the muscular sounds of human tissues, the work approaches the biological body as a means for computational artistry.
I stand in a dark room, hit with two spotlights. When the visitors enter the room the performance begins. During my performance muscle movements and blood flow produce subcutaneous low frequency sound waves. Two microphone sensors capture the sounds created by my limbs and send it to a computer. This develops an understanding of my kinetic behaviour by listening to the friction of my flesh.
Specific gesture, force levels and patterns are identified in real time by the computer; then, according to this information, it manipulates algorithmically the sound of my flesh and diffuses it through an a variable array of loudspeakers. The computer learns about and interact with the performance: for instance, strong and wide movements repeated for longer than 30 seconds prompt the computer to increase the sound loudness and density of the processed output; a repeated excitement of the left bicep causes a rich vibrato; an abrupt contraction of the right forearm moves the sound across the right side of the sonic field.
The neural and biological signals that drive the performer’s actions become analogous expressive matter, for they emerge as a tangible haunting soundscape. The border between physical and virtual body is blurred and dissolved; by harvesting pure kinetic energy from corporeal sounds, incarnated gesture and concrete vibrations, the piece actualizes before the audience eyes a visceral and cognitively challenging territory.
Marco Donnarumma is a new media and sonic artist, performer and teacher based in Edinburgh, UK. Weaving a thread around biomedia research, musical and theatrical performance, participatory practices and subversive coding, Marco looks at the collision of critical creativity with humanized technologies. His biophysical system Xth Sense won the first prize in the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition and was named the 2012 “world’s most innovative new musical instrument” by the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, US. He has performed and spoken in 30 countries worldwide. His works have been selected at leading art events (ISEA, Venice Biennale, WRO Biennial), specialized festivals (FILE, EMAF, Mapping, Piksel, Laboral, Némo), and academic conferences (NIME, ICMC, Stanford CCRMA, PdCon). Has been artist in residence at Inspace (UK) and the National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance (DK). Fundings include the European Commission, Creative Scotland, New Media Scotland and the Danish Arts Council.