Recent activities (August 2014) – Hacking the Body 2.0

Camille recently did a presentation on here work and particularly Hacking the Body 2.0.

She discussed how the online project examines the practice of computing hacking and how choreography and participatory performance can be shaped by its ethos, methods and approaches. The project examines current rhetoric on personal code and data collection in the modern world to extend and question a variety of parameters of the states of the human body. It explores emerging technological tools and devices to find new ways to devise engaging performances as artists, and as a means to make immersive experiences for audiences and participants.

Camille discussed how she and Kate recently refined the conceptual framework, so that now ‘Hacking the Body 2.0’ is the next stage of this performance investigation, whereby data collected from medical and other physiological sensing devices, in consultation with the biotech experts and Brunel University, such as new blood glucose measuring devices, and mobile CT scanning, will be utilised as choreographic and/or participatory performance devising material.

With exponentially increased corporate interest wearable technology for fitness and health, this artistic exploration investigates from a different perspective, the aspects of states of the body, re-imagine them, re-code, repurpose or “hack” them into new interactive, participatory and choreographed performances, visual artefacts, and mobile applications for direct audience experience and engagement.
These performances will engage the public with theirs and others’ bodies from inside of their organs, blood and nervous system in these performance sculptures, movement and pervasive games.

Through this investigation we hope to explore issues of personal data and privacy issues topical recently, as well as on how self-monitoring one’s own body data may lead new forms of narcissism and corporate spying, but also how understanding the inner workings of the body processes may or may not lead people to greater overall health and better physical habits. This project will critique concepts of electronic code versus body and extend into new parameters of exposing the body as part of the greater social, political and technological networks.

Our conceptual perspective, thus, also examines current rhetoric on code, hacking, networks, the quantified self, and data to extend into the parameters of inner and outer states of the human body. Therefore, we seek to address such questions such as:

1) Since only 10% of the body is known, how can we expose something about the body that is new and allow the public to see new dimensions of it to do something new with that knowledge?

2) The quantified self movement and fitness industry capitalises on the individual’s desire to know and keep track of their own physiological data – how can we challenge and reposition this desire into different discussions around what is this data, who owns it, and the ethics of this data collection?

3) Why are these issues compelling and beneficial for use in digital performance and how can we explore them more deeply through our work?

Participants will engage with their own body code during three ‘hacks’ or performative experiments, constructed to develop different approaches to using technology within performance contexts, in order to engage audience/participants in their own biological states. By repurposing emerging medical technologies, we will devise new types of choreographed and participatory performances, about and with participants’ body data. With the input and advice from the Brunel Centre for Electronic Systems Research CESR Research Fellow and expert, Dr Ruth Mackay.

New insights into body response and behaviour, as well as how human body data can be represented in novel ways within performance and reused in performance, will emerge. By allowing the public to engage with these body-data based performances and installations, they will engage with their physical existence differently. This hacking method of repurposing in collaborative settings can also be seen in previous work of the collaborators including Dr. Kate Sicchio’s work “Hacking Choreography”, which explored how dancers and live coding may be used to create dance performance.