Our current technologies, namely the Internet, mobile devices, and now wearables, are numbing our biological self through a form of what Marshall McLuhan referred to as “self-amputation.” This paper is a critical examination and a creative reversal of the legacy of cybernetics. It seeks to both interrogate the underlying rhetoric fueling the post-biological technocracy to which we are unconsciously ceding control of our cognitive and affective faculties, and also explores how embodied, bio-adaptive game-based networked performance practices can serve as an antidote.
Through a case study of [radical] signs of life, one of the first large-scale uses of biotechnology to integrate networked bodies and interactive dance, this practice-based research attempts to recuperate the biological self by 1) re-inscribing the body, affect and the senses into current techno-utopian discourse, and 2) re-stimulating the peripheral nervous system through kinesthetic play and bio-adaptive feedback. Through responsive dance, [radical] signs of life attempts to externalize the mind’s non-hierarchical distribution of thought. Music is generated from the dancers’ muscles and blood flow via biophysical sensors that capture sound waves from the performer’s bodies. The data trigger complex neural patterns to be projected onto multiple screens as 3D imagery. As the audience interacts with the images produced, they enter into a dialogue with the dancers. Both the creative work and theoretical paper seek to offer a new technological paradigm, one which highlights embodied differentials; the irreducible and changing differences of bodies and contexts that foreground unpredictability and emergence, and resist social control and quantification. By reifying the centrality of the body, affect and the senses—the messiness of subjectivity—the work rejects the human API, and instead establishes the conditions for the cultivation of a social ecology that optimizes our ability to “experience our own intensity” suspended in multiplicity and relational becoming.
Project blog: www.radicalsignsoflife.tumblr.com
Trailer of premiere: http://vimeo.com/81109284