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New installation for particle group, in Inside the Wave
San Diego Museum of Art, through June 22, 2008

"For the market, nanoparticles hold the 21st century’s great promise. For critics, they are a vision of pure horror, as long as the toxicological risks are not known. The era of unregulated nanocapitalism has already dawned..." (read more from the PITMM site).

Starting with some of the narratives produced through Ricardo Dominguez and Diane Ludin's PITMM project, I created this interactive installation, hoping to translate some of the hype and hidden penetration of nanotechnology into an experiential tug-of-war.

Here are links to recent articles about the work:

San Diego Union Tribune review of Inside the Wave

San Diego City Beat discusses Inside the Wave

Street: San Diego Union Tribune blogs on the piece

San Diego Museum of Art Inside the Wave info

And here is some video documentation - it may need to be fully downloaded before sound and image sync up, and is best heard through headphones or external speakers:

PITMM at SDMA short documentation

PITMM at SDMA: the doctors pass through the scanners

This is a new site-specific cousin to the nano installation I made for Berlin's House of World Cultures.

In both versions, as visitors move through the installation, they tune the soundscape with their bodies. If a visitor simply passes by a pedestal, or stands in front of it, she triggers a particular mix of sound played in a particular way. But if her curiosity leads her to spend more time and play with the visible sensors - if she moves closer and further from the sensor "eyes" - she gains controls over the sound. She can slow or speed it up, dissolve and fracture texts, mix in new sounds that contradict or harmonize with key narratives, or unfurl longer, stranger nanotales and nanodogma. The piece becomes something that can be played, not just heard. Blasts of air interrupt this process, repelling some visitors, but not before blowing particles and sucking visitors' surface cells into our nano-sonic exchange. At times, particle sounds swirl through speakers, swarming and surrounding the visitors. (see the video of the Berlin version to get an idea of how this works).

Theorist Brian Massumi has described the human body as a collection of transducers. (transducer, n., a device that is actuated by power from one system and supplies power usually in another form to a second system.) My work mines bodily transduction circuits - the physical, sonic and logical circuits imposed on bodies moving through today's scripted spaces. I’m particularly interested in creating choreographies that generate awareness through the body's parallel processing of related scripts through multiple senses.

Thus in designing the piece for the San Diego museum, it became interesting to me to intertwine 5 key scripts at play in that particular space, to see what kinds of gaps and overlaps might come up by mashing up old and new systems of control. These systems are: 1) The classic museum scripting of a body's movement through galleries - a choregraphy that physically circulates a visitor so that she might receive Important Cultural Ideas and Objects. 2) The scripts and expectations attached to the pedestal as form - how we place ourselves and behave in relation to a pedestal and its "contents" - versus the slightly different dance encouraged between pedestals and visitors to our piece. 3) Controls imposed by the central nervous system of the museum - the electrical and air circulation systems. The tubes through which our piece circulates air and information are visibly connected to the inputs/outputs of this museum infrastructure. 4) Nanotechnology's invasive scripting of the body - it's invisible penetration of the body's surface and interior, in order to perform scripts both known and unknown. 5) Sound's similar meeting and scripting of the body, through its invisible penetration of the body's surfaces and interiors.

What kind of agency might a visitor feel being lost and/or created in this heavily scripted, but not atypical, contemporary space? The visitor might seem to gain more controls as she moves through the piece. A wider range of sounds & manipulations become available as she proceeds. But in order to gain "control", she offers more of her body/time to the interests of the system. A visitor who invests the most time & curiosity in the piece finds hidden sweet spots that provide alternative texts and sounds. But in taking the time to find these sweet spots, she is continuously offering her body to be read and experimented upon by the system....

We are so often lured into giving up agency through this very illusion of increasing our "control". The scripted system captures and imparts all it wants, while we frequently gain but a facade of control over its surface effects...

But there are opportunities for hacking. The pedestals can be played as sound instruments - defying the logical sense of the information they attempt to impart. And you see marks of peoples hands and feet on the white pedestals - disruptions of obedient museum visitor standard practice. The marks point to experiences that can't be seen - visible traces of invisible actions that run counter to our nano-script, hackable soft spots in the dominant narrative.

The installation is currently open to visitors to the museum and has been used in performances by Ricardo Dominguez, Amy Sara Carroll and Césaire José Carroll-Dominguez.

Project Credits:
Principal Investigators: Ricardo Dominguez and Diane Ludin
Interactive Sound Installation: Nina Waisman
PD programming: Marius Schebella
Installation construction: Pierre Galaud, Robert Twomey, Nina Waisman
Voices: Veronika Bauer, Nevllle Billimoria, Philipp Danzeisen, Ricardo Dominguez, Laura Booth Freda, Karina Gutierrez, Felipe Zuniga

Special thanks to:
Betti-Sue Hertz