Thursday, 7 March 2013

Hypo Chrysos: Mapping in Interactive Action Art Using Bioacoustic Sensing


Marco Donnarumma presents to us Hypo Chrysos. Hypo Chrysos is a work of action art and biophysical media. Audio and visual content is driven by continuous bioacoustic signals. These bioacoustic signals comprise of blood, muscle sound bursts and bone crackles as a result of pulling heavy weights attached to the performers arms.. The bioacoustic signals are amplified giving a low frequency sound and then distorted to give mid range and high frequencies. All the content is created in real time and solely depends on how the performer interacts with the weights on stage.


All audio and visual content is created in real time by the performers body using the Xth-sense. The Xth-sense, a new instrument and recently voted "world’s most innovative new musical instrument" by the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology (US),  works by attaching wearable biosensors to the body. These biosensors work with a digital framework that processes real-time acoustic biosignals. These biosignals are then amplified and played out over several speakers.  The performer straps two weights (30kg combined) to their arms. The music is created by the performer pulling these weights around the stage. The performer must force themselves through the pain until the piece is completed. The strain level of the performer's body defines the piece of music being played back to the audience. At first the build of the bioacoustic sounds from the viens and muscles build slowly, delivering low punchy sounds. As the sounds build they are distorted and fed back into the back into the piece creating higher sounds. 

Watch Marco Donnarumma perform live here: Hypo Chrysos | Action art for vexed body and biophysical media (Xth Sense)

Hypo Chrysos is a fascinating and inspiring piece, to achieve a musical performance the performer must go through a certain level of pain and suffering. I see it almost as a physical metaphor to the hard work that musicians go through to bring a new piece of music to the world. This piece of art also represents inner musical workings of the body in a way never heard before.

Additional information: Marco Donnarumma's piece is inspired by "the sixth Bolgia of Dante’s Infernolocated in one of the lowest of the circles of hell. Here, the poet encounters the hypocrites walking along wearing gilded cloaks filled with lead. It was Dante’s punishment for the falsity hidden behind their behaviour; a malicious use of reason which he considered unique to human beings."

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