MARCO DONNARUMMA

Performing bodies, sounds and machines

Marco Donnarumma | peformance art and technology, sound art and body politics


MARCO
DONNARUMMA

Corpus Nil

Corpus Nil is a ritual of birth for a modified body, a tense and sensual choreography between a human performer and an artificially intelligent machine, exploding through sound and light.

“Raw. Poetic. Surreal.”
Mette Reitzel, Documentary Filmmaker

“It defies categorization.”
Prix Ars Electronica 2017 Jury

About the work

Human bodies and identities are continuously categorized, online and offline, by artificially intelligent algorithms and machines. But what if, by contrast, artificial intelligence could be used to contaminate human bodily experience? How does a body defiled by algorithms look and move like?

Corpus Nil is a performance for a human body and an artificially intelligent machine. A naked body, partly human and partly machine, lies on stage. It is an amorphous cluster of skin, muscles, hardware and software. Biophysical sensors attached to the performer’s limbs capture bodily electrical voltages and corporeal sounds and feed them to the machine.

Thanks to a sophisticated set of algorithms, each nuance of the body’s motion sets off a synaesthetic play of sound and light directed by the machine. The biological signals of the body influence the choices of the machine, but cannot control what it will do. In turn, the auditive and visual saturation produced by the machine influences the body’s movement, but disrupts its perception and motor skills at the same time. Despite being intimately linked to the human body, the machine is autonomous and chooses by itself how to respond to the performer`s movements.

In an unstable feedback loop, the body and the machine pollute each other. The amorphous being on stage slowly evolves into a unfamiliar creature. It reconfigures its parts through a sensuous choreography pushing the limits of muscular tension, limbs torsion, skin friction and equilibrium. The corporeal sound frequencies are spatialised using a multi-channel sound system surrounding the audience, while bioelectrical flashes of light rhythmically illuminate the space.

Through sound, light and optical illusions, the physical mutation of the body impacts and submerges the audience, inducing a trance-like experience. As the body and the machine form a partial, unknown and yet graceful being, spectators feel as if its heart was beating within their own bodies. It is unclear whether the new body is human enough, or perhaps, the common meaning of ‘human’ is not enough to describe it.

Awards: Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction (2nd Prize) for Sound Art (AT)
Keywords: Sound art, body art, physiological computing, sensuality, trance
Status: Touring

Corpus Nil photo gallery

  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Ominous Performance Art Sound Art

Year of creation: 2016
Technique: biosensors, LED light, computer-processed sound, multi-channel diffusion, black paint
Duration: 20’00”
Dimensions: 4m x 14m x 6m

Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Corpus Nil Performance Art Sound Art

Exhibitions

  • NEU Festival for Future Technology
    Presented by CTM Festival and Goethe Institut
    Beijing, CN, 2017
  • MOCO, Intern. Conference on Movement Computing
    London, UK, 2017
  • Perform Tech
    Lodz, PL, 2017
  • Athens Digital Arts Festival
    Athens, GR, 2017
  • The Body – Group Exhibition, MUOArt Gallery
    Beijing, CN, 2017
  • Feria del Millón, Contemporary Art Fair, Voltaje
    Bogotá, CO, 2016
  • No Patent Pending – Nomadic Performance Series
    The Hague, NL, 2016
  • Retune Festival for Art, Design and Technology
    Berlin, DE, 2016
  • ReSense.MOV Festival of Movement and Performance
    Berlin, DE, 2016
  • The Game Europe Plays – Body Tech,
    London, UK, 2016
  • Creative Tech Week,
    New York, NY, US, 2016
  • Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery,
    Chicago, IL, US, 2016
  • Sonic Cyborgs Creative Arts Across Disciplines
    Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, US, 2016
  • GLOBALE – ZKM Center for Arts and Media
    Premiere, Karlsruhe, DE, 2016
  • NIME, New Interfaces for Musical Expression,
    Preview, Baton Rouge, LA, US, 2015

Credits

Marco Donnarumma – Concept, music, performance, programming
Baptiste Caramiaux – Additional programming
Margherita Pevere – Stage production & make up
Alessandro Altavilla – Camera
Onuk, ZKM – Photography
EAVI, Goldsmiths, University of London – In kind support
European Research Council – Research funding

Publications

Donnarumma, M.
Beyond the cyborg: performance, attunement and autonomous computation
International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 13(2), 105-119, Routledge, 2017.