Performing bodies, sounds and machines

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


Music for Flesh II

Music for Flesh II is a an interactive sound art performance for enhanced body. The piece is performed in a concert setting with a circular array of subwoofers and loudspeakers.

About the work

The piece creates a seamless mediation between human bioacoustics and algorithmic composition using the XTH Sense, a biophysical musical instrument created by the author.

A performer stands in a dark room, hit with two spotlights. When the visitors enter the room the performance begins. As the performer moves, muscle movements and blood flow produce subcutaneous mechanical oscillations, which are nothing but low frequency sound waves. Two chip microphone sensors capture the sonic matter created by the performer limbs and send it to a computer.

The computer develops an understanding of the performer’s kinetic behaviour by listening to the friction of his flesh. Specific gesture, force levels and patterns are identified in real time by the computer; then, according to this information, the computer manipulates algorithmically the sound of the performer’s flesh and diffuses it through an octophonic sound system.

The computer learns about and interact with the performance: 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.

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. 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.

The work defines a temporary cognitive time-zone in which the physical space of the performance is augmented, stretched, enlightened, obscured, dominated by a real time reconstruction of the 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 in order to embrace the audience.

Award: 1st Prize Guthman Musical Instrument Competition
Keywords: Concert, performance, new interfaces, bioacoustics, physiological computing
Status: Touring

Music for Flesh II photo gallery

  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art  Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art

Year of creation: 2011-2012
Technique: custom-built XTH Sense bioacoustic sensors, computer, loudspeakers, subwoofers, yellow par can spotlights
Duration: 10’00”
Dimensions: min. 8m x8m x4m

Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Music for Flesh II Performance Art Sound Art


  1. Holzmund #5

    Urban Spree, Berlin, 2017

  2. Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics, IEM

    performed by Intrasonic Duo, Graz, 2017

  3. transmediale Vorspiel Hypernatural Sounds

    SomoS Gallery, Berlin, 2016

  4. Scope Session Live

    Spektrum, Berlin, 2015

  5. NEMO Biennale/IRCAM Live

    La Gaîté lyrique, Paris, 2015

  6. Maintenant Festival

    Hotel Pasteur, Rennes, 2015

  7. Embodied Sound

    University of East London, London, 2015

  8. Apiary Session

    Apiary Studios, London, 2015

  9. MusicMakers Hacklab

    Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, 2015

  10. CTM Festival

    Kunsthaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2015

  11. Hyphen Hub Salon

    Red Door Space, New York City, 2014

  12. Spectrum NYC

    Dark Circuits Festival, New York City, 2014

  13. Olematute kylade projekt / Project for Non-existent Villages

    Tartu, EE, 2014

  14. Sónar+D / Opening Music Hack Day

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, ES, 2014

  15. Arte Performatica y Tecnologia

    ZonAutonoma, Puebla, MX, 2014

  16. 2° Encuentro Internacional de Arte Sonoro

    Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, MX, 2014

  17. STEIM Concert of Bodies

    Studio for Electro Instrumental Music, Amsterdam, NL, 2014

  18. Experimental Intermedia

    hosted by Phil Niblock, New York City, NY, US, 2014

  19. ICT & Art Connect

    Watermans Art Centre, London, UK, 2014

  20. TransitioMX Biomediaciones

    CENART, Foro de las Artes, Mexico City, MX, 2013

  21. DA Fest

    National Academy of Arts, Sofia, BG, 2013

  22. Kontejner

    Sound Art Incubator, Mocvara Gallery, Zagreb, HR, 2013

  23. STEIM Summer Party

    Studio for Electro Instrumental Music, Amsterdam, NL, 2013

  24. POLAND Tour: Falanster

    Wroclaw, 2013

  25. POLAND Tour: Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle

    Warsaw, 2013

  26. POLAND Tour: Art&Science Meeting

    Łaźnia Center for Contemporary Art, Gdansk, 2013

  27. SARC Lunchtime Concert

    Sonic Arts Research Center, Belfast, NIR, 2012

  28. Robots and Avatars/KIBLA Festival

    KID Kibla, Maribor, SL, 2012

  29. ISEA International Symposium on Electronic Arts

    Albuquerque, New Mexico, US, 2012

  30. Robots and Avatars UK Selection

    Europe House, London, UK, 2012

  31. Live Interfaces: Performance, Art, Music

    ICSRiM, University of Leeds, UK, 2012

  32. Turing Festival/Music Hack Day Scotland

    Summerhall, Edinburgh, UK, 2012

  33. FILE Hypersonica

    SESC-SP, Sao Paulo, BR, 2012

  34. Body/Controlled: BioInterfacing

    LEAP, Berlin, DE, 2012

  35. USA Tour: NIME Conference

    Michigan University, Ann Arbor, MI, 2012

  36. USA Tour:

    Gowanus Institute Space, New York, NY, 2012

  37. USA Tour: Harvestworks

    New York, NY, 2012

  38. USA Tour: American University

    Washington, DC, 2012

  39. USA Tour: They, Who Sound

    Avant Garden, Houston, TX, 2012

  40. Liveness, Gesture, Prosthesis, Metaphor

    CENART, Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, MX, 2012

  41. INTER/actions

    Bangor University, Bangor, UK, 2012

  42. Dialogues, Edinburgh Science Festival

    Inspace, Edinburgh, UK, 2012

  43. BEAM Night

    Cafe OTO, London, 2012

  44. Sonorities Festival

    SARC, Belfast, IRL, 2012

  45. Finals Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition

    First Prize, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, US, 2012

  46. NetaudioLX Festival

    Cinema S. Jorge, Lisbon, PT, 2012

  47. Dimensions in Sound

    CultureLab Newcastle, UK, 2011

  48. Piksel Festival

    Studio USF, Bergen, NO, 2011

  49. 7° Simposio UNAM

    ENAP/UNAM, Mexico City, MX 2011

  50. Noise=Noise

    nnnnn, London, UK, 2011

  51. 4th Pure Data Convention

    Bauhaus Universitat, Weimar, DE, 2011

  52. Kernel Festival

    Desio, IT, 2011

  53. BEAM Festival

    Uxbridge University, London, UK,  2011

  54. Linux Audio Conference

    Aula Maxima, NUI Maynooth, NIR, 2011

  55. eXperimontag

    Madame Claude, Berlin, DE, 2011

  56. Non-Bio Boom | Xth Sense

    Inspace (School of Informatics and New Media Scotland), Edinburgh, UK, 2011

  57. Grind Sight Open Eye

    The Spectacular Café Diablo, Edinburgh, UK, 2011

  58. Pure Data Mini Conference

    Trinity College, Dublin, NIR, 2011

  59. The University of Edinburgh

    Alison House, Edinburgh, UK, 2011


Marco Donnarumma – Concept, music, performance, programming
Kevin Hay and Brendan Doyle – Sound engineering
Brendan Doyle – light design
Mark Daniels, Chris Scott, Dimitris Patrikios, Parag K Mital, Fabiola Cordero – Photographers
Edinburgh Hacklab and Dorkbot ALBA – Technical collaboration
Sound Lab Edinburgh – Production
Inspace – In kind support
Creative Scotland – Touring support


Donnarumma, M.,
Incarnated Sound in Music for Flesh II. Defining Gesture in Biologically Informed Musical Performance

Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA), 18(3), Special Issue “Touch and Go”, Leonardo and MIT Press, 2012.

Donnarumma, M.,
Music for Flesh II: Informing Interactive Music Practice with the Viscerality of the Body System
Proceedings of the New Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference (NIME), Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, 2012.