INSIDE-OUT a Sound Art Performance

This is the work I'm presenting for my degree show in Performance & Visual Arts at the University of Brighton.

Firstly, ‘INSIDE-OUT’ brings the internal sounds of the human body to our ears.
In a contemporary urban daily life, already covered by noisy soundscapes, we generally forget we sound. Nevertheless, such vibrations reflect the very meaning of life. In this live performance, I am exposing my body sounds to the audience.
The audio signals picked up from my body go simultaneously to loudspeakers and to microcontrollers. My body sounds become audible. Furthermore, they become the power that drives motors. The motors play ritualistic music instruments on their turn. Subliminally, the soundscape I create ends up turning back to me as meditational inductor. As a result, the sounds also interfere in their own process of creation, as I try to manipulate my internal body sounds with breathing exercises.

Bodily Elements

Using breathing techniques, we can create a variety of rhythms. We can also speed up and low down our heartbeat. This performance involves heartbeat manipulation.  I will be monitoring my heartbeat using a digital automatic blood pressure monitor in the beginning and in the end of the performance to compare the results.

The throat area, when carefully stimulated, can produce rich harmonics. Such sounds, however, cannot be sung loudly. This, I call ‘internal singing’, and I usually do it when I wake up in the morning.

The guts sounds are very difficult to predict or control. Nevertheless, feeling hungry or eating a lot usually helps in getting some sounds out of it.

The body sounds, once translated into electric signals, become reference for microcontrollers to drive motors and light bulbs. The motors’ traction is used to play instruments such as gong, berimbau, harp, and percussion effects that, combined with the live body sounds, generate a mantric soundscape that resembles that of shamanistic rituals of cure.

Exteriorisation / Technology

Trying and find a way to amplify body sounds, I have developed a hybrid between a stethoscope and a microphone. For INSIDE-OUT, I use two stethoscopic microphones – one attached to my hearth, and another to my guts.  Breathing and singing sounds are captured using a microphone attached to an oxygen mask. These sounds are then, transported to a sound desk and from there, to a PA system. Simultaneously, the dynamics of  my heartbeat control the brightness of two light bulbs, while the signal sent by the breathing sounds starts the DC motors set to induce sounds from instruments. Slowly the sound focus turns to different objects. The lights become the only reference to the sound of heartbeat. A new electromechanical soundscape arises. Hidden behind its existence, the sounds of my body are back to anonymity.

Influenced by the works of Murray Shafer, John Cage, Evelyn Glennie, Alvin Lucier and Stephen Barrass, the INSIDE-OUT project involves art, medicine, music, psychoacoustic, and robotics. The ideas were developed during one year of research in the relations between sound and health for my final dissertation in the PAVA course at the University of Brighton, while working part-time at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital as health-care cleaner, coexisting with numerous sounding machines of body invigilation.