[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat – Shared Senses: Intimacy Data Symphony

Artists Statement 

Keywords: interactive performance, EEG headsets, projector, computers, speakers

How does an Artificial Emotional (AE) kiss feel? Can AI/AE support an intimate kiss?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) increasingly shapes human empathic interaction. AI systems applied to Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for mining and interpreting biofeedback data of social behavior, focus on automatization, categorization, patterns, and prediction. Design for sharing intimate, empathic relations, however, demands a new Artificially Emotional (AE) design approach. In interdisciplinary collaboration (art, design, technology, science, society), art-science duo Lancel/Maat fundamentally rethink AI/AE concepts and ethical design of mirroring empathy (Freedberg & Gallese 2007) in future neural networks. In live experiments and dialogue with public participants, biofeedback-data are interpreted in new ways, building on artistic and scientific insights, visual data-patterns, data-sonification, shared participants interaction – leading to video-works, prints, publications (Lancel et al. 2019).
The poetic ritual and performance-installation Kissing Data proposes an AE/ BCI mediated multi-sensory syntheses of intimate touch, essential to empathy, well-being, and social resilience. People are invited as Kissers or Spectators to experience a shared kiss. While kissing, Kissers’ brainwaves are measured with Multi-BCI E.E.G. headsets. Real-time, their streaming E.E.G.-data-visualizations encircle them in a floor projection. Simultaneously, the Spectators’ brainwaves are measured (their neurons mirroring the activity of intimate kissing movements, resonating in their imagination). Both Kissers’ and Spectators’ data co-create an immersive visual, reflexive data scape, translated to an algorithm for a soundscape: a Kissing Data Symphony. Printed data-visualizations are exhibited as Portraits of a Kiss.
Participants can share kissing or caressing each others’ faces. The artists thank Mondriaan Fund; Delft University of Technology; STEIM Amsterdam/ Tijs Ham (sound); Waag Society Amsterdam ‘Hack the Brain’ Horizon2020 European Union Programme; RIXC-Riga; TASML artists-residency Tsinghua University Beijing; TU Twente; Universities of Amsterdam, Vienna; TNO/NWO Netherlands Scientific Research; Baltan Laboratories, Fourtress, Holst Center and Phillips Eindhoven; Eagle Science Amsterdam; EMAP-EMARE Creative-Europe Programme.

  • Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat, Netherlands. Art-science duo Lancel/Maat are considered pioneers exploring embodied presence, privacy, empathy, and trust, in post-human bio(techno)logical entanglement with (non-)human others. They radically re-orchestrate automated control technologies, bio- feedback and social-sensory perception, to create ‘Trust-Systems’, for intimate meeting experiences and for public dialogue on resilient, AI/AE social eco- cultures. In host, immersive performance-installations (‘shared neuro-feedback systems’, ‘reflexive data-scapes’), audience interact through face-recognition, brain-computer, smart-textile technologies – portrayed in video-works and data- prints. Shows: ZKM, Venice Biennale 2015; Rijksmuseum Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Ars Electronica; NABI Seoul; 2nd TASIE Millennium Museum Beijing, Transmediale Berlin; WaagSociety Amsterdam; ISEA2004- 2011-2016; Shanghai World-Expo2010. Residencies/fellowships grants awarded by Mondriaan Foundation, Banff Center, V2_Institute, TASML Tsinghua University, NWO-Netherlands, EMAP-EMARE Creative-Europe Programme. Lancel/Maat lecture, publish, teach internationally (CHI, ArtsIT, Leonardo), conducting PhD-research at TU Delft ‘Participatory-Systems-Initiative’ and at Hanze-University Groningen (Minerva Academy), where Lancel previously headed the MFA media-art program. Works are included in Digital-Canon LIMA and ZKM collections. lancelmaat.nl