MARCO DONNARUMMA

Performing bodies, sounds and machines

Marco Donnarumma | sound art and performance art, human body and biotechnology


MARCO
DONNARUMMA

Nigredo

Nigredo is a private experience of altered self-perception and biophysical media. The work is presented in the form of a time-based installation for one visitor at a time.

About the work

Accompanied by an assistant, a visitor enters a very small and completely blackened booth. Here the visitor is invited to sit on a chair facing a one-way mirror. The chair is embedded with three high-power infrasound devices that make direct contact with the visitor’s skull and vertebral column. The assistant requests the visitor to take off shoes and shirt, then blocks the skull of the visitor to the chair using an elastic headband and helps the visitor wearing a XTH Sense biosensor at the location nearest to the heart.

The XTH Sense captures the sound of the visitor’s heartbeat, blood flow and muscle contractions. That sound is digitally processed and fed back to the visitor’s body in the form of new audio, visual and physical stimuli. Namely, sounds are diffused by a hidden surround system and two subwoofers, flickering lights are generated by LED strips located behind the visitor’s body, while intense mechanical vibrations are induced to the whole body using the high-power infrasound devices.

By making direct contact with the skull and the vertebral column, the infrasound devices feed back to the visitor’s body her own visceral sounds in the form of mechanical vibration patterns. The different patterns are designed so to travel through the body in opposite directions and thus create standing waves inside the visitor’s rib cage. A standing wave is a stationary wave that is produced by the encounter of two waves traveling in opposite directions and so induces resonance into a medium, in this case, a human body.

Because the standing waves is a strong stationary acoustic vibration, it resonates internally the bones and the tissues, and thus displaces the relative position of one’s body organs (Griffin and Seidel, 2011). The combination of intense whole-body vibration, spatialised auditive stimuli and flickering lights interferes with the neurophysiological processes that govern the voluntary and autonomic nervous systems. This alters the rhythm of the cardiovascular and respiratory system, the perception of one’s own articulations in space and the behaviour of the optical nerves (Rejali, 2003). The perception of one’s own image in the mirror mutates and with it also the perception of one’s own body changes.

By repurposing biofeedback methods, whole-body vibration and wearable bioacoustic technology, the visitor is first induced in a state of perceptual deprivation, and then subjected to diverse stimulations designed and temporally composed so to provoke physiological, physical and neural alterations. The work aims to unlock latent qualities of the human body through its coupling with the technological system.

Awards: Cynetart Award (DE), TransitioMX Prize (MX)
Keywords: Installation, bioacoustics, whole-body vibration, surround sound, perceptual deprivation
Status: Touring

Nigredo photo gallery

  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
  • Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art

Year of creation: 2013
Technique: custom-built XTH Sense heartbeat sensor, breathing rate sensor, acoustic exciters, audio amplifiers, computer, LED lights, planed fir, black molton
Duration: 8’00”
Dimensions: 1.20m x 1.20m x 2.40m

Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art
Marco Donnarumma - Nigredo Sound Art

Exhibitions

  • Steirischer Herbst – Musikprotokoll, Österreichischer Rundfunk Festival,
    Kunsthaus, Graz, AT, 2015
  • CYNETART Festival, international festival for computer based art and transdisciplinary media projects
    Hellerau, Dresden, DE, 2014
  • TransitioMX Biomediation, fifth competition of electronic arts and video
    Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, 2013
  • STEIM, Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music, premiere
    Amsterdam, NL, February 2013

Credits

Marco Donnarumma – Concept, composition, programming
Marije Baalman – Artistic support, hardware engineering
Lucas Norer – Technical support
Ida Toft – Visitors’ assistant
Tanja Busking – Videography
David Pinzer – Photographer
Jonathan Reus – Curator
STEIM – Production

Publications

Donnarumma, M.,
Nigredo: Configuring Human and Technological Bodies
Experiencing the Unconventional – Science in Art. Eds. Theresa Schubert-Minski and Andrew Adamatzky. London: World Scientific, 2015.