OCTOBER 5—30, 2012


Music for flesh II, 2011
Marco Donnarumma
United Kingdom
Interactive music performance for enhanced body (Xth Sense Bionsensing Technology)
Stitched Panorama

The work is a seamless mediation between human biosonic potential and algorithmic composition. It defines a temporary cognitive time-zone in which the performance space is augmented, stretched, enlightened, obscured, dominated by a real-time reconstruction of a human body primal expressiveness.

Body is no longer silent, and the embodied interaction which was so far kept mute, now acquires a new textural layer, a tangible and profound level of interpretation and representation which can be at the same time intimately experienced by the performer, and audibly and visually externalized so to embrace the audience.

By enabling a computer to sense and interact with the muscular sonic potential 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 mechanical oscillations, which are nothing but low frequency sound waves. Two microphone sensors capture the sonic matter 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 octophonic system.

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.”


New media and sonic artist, performer and teacher, Marco Donnarumma was born in Italy and is based in London. 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. Recently, he curated the publication Biotechnological Performance Practice (eContact!, 14.2). Marco has performed and spoken in 30 countries including US and South America, Europe, India, China, South Korea and Australia. His works have been selected at leading art events (ISEA, Venice Biennale, WRO Biennale), specialized festivals (FILE, Sonorities, Némo, Mapping, Piksel, Re-New, Laboral, EMAF) and major academic conferences (NIME, ICMC, Pure Data Convention, Linux Audio Conference@Stanford CCRMA, SICMF). Currently, Marco is a ERC-funded PhD student for the Embodied Audio Visual Interaction (EAVI) Research Group at Goldsmiths University, supervised by Professor Atau Tanaka.