installation view, Machine Bodies (curated by Karina Iskandarsjah), Vector Festival, Toronto, CA, 2022.
My body is connected to a system of interfaces and a consumer-grade brainwave headband that translate the brainwave signals collected from my sleep into visuals and sounds. The visuals that are responsive to the brainwave data transition between choreographed body movements, while the same set of bio-data modulates the song L’Internationale as a standard of the international socialist movement.
The core of the work is a performance of doing-nothing. It is a visual and sonic anthem of fatigue and frustration, a useless polemic to the over-demand of productivity and self-optimization in a reality where acts of doing-nothing such as relaxation and healing are exploited to “promote perfect functioning within the system” in Byung-chul Han’s words. With the popularization of bio-technologies, “lethargy” becomes the productivity of useless labouring that is at the same time oversimplified and regulated by bio-cybernetic feedback loops. The act of doing-nothing in this work is an act of passive disengagement, to feed “bad data” back to the logic of the market.
“Neoliberal psychopolitics is always coming up with more refined forms of exploitation. Countless self-management workshops, motivational retreats and seminars on personality or mental training promise boundless self-optimization and heightened efficiency. They are steered by neoliberal techniques of domination, which aim to capitalize not just on working time but on the person him- or herself: all the attention the individual commands and, indeed, his or her very life.”— Byung-chul Han “Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power“
Diagram of the signal chain
In this project, I used Max/MSP for sonic modulation, Touchdesigner for “brainwave” and “neuron” visualization, and green screen for recording body movements.
installation view, Allegorical Circuits for Human Software (curated by Laurie Cotton Pigeon), Place Publique, Darling Fonderie, Montreal, CA, 2020. Photo by Hugo St-Laurent