[ISEA2011] Panel: Elle Mehrmand & Micha Cárde­nas – I want to touch you: Tran­sreal Aes­thet­ics in virus.circus

Panel Statement

Panel: Queer Viralities: Resistant Practices in New Media Art & Philosophy

Due to re­cent viral out­breaks, pro­tec­tive latex bar­ri­ers must be worn at all times.
Skin to skin con­tact may re­sult in viral con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.
Fail­ure to com­ply will re­sult in a min­i­mum of 10 years in a fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiary.
Touch­ing, and ill­ness, are pro­hib­ited by law.
The virus must be con­tained.

virus.circus fol­lows the viral as a trans­ver­sal line of in­quiry that in­ter­sects with the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of med­ical au­thor­ity, mi­cro­scopic transna­tional mi­gra­tions and global eco­nomic in­equal­ity. Con­sist­ing of an episodic se­ries of per­for­mances using wear­able elec­tron­ics, soft sen­sors and live audio to bridge vir­tual and phys­i­cal spaces, the per­for­mances ex­plore queer fu­tures of latex sex­u­al­ity and DIY med­i­cine amidst a spec­u­la­tive world of virus hys­te­ria. The his­tory of queer pol­i­tics shows that the rhetoric of viruses such as HIV are used to con­trol mar­gin­al­ized pop­u­la­tions, while viruses such as H1N1 re­pro­duce these struc­tures of power. virus.circus asks how erotic af­fect can be a form of re­sis­tance to west­ern med­i­cine. Across episodes in­clud­ing virus.circus.touch, virus.circus.breath and virus.circus.probe, Mehrmand and Cárde­nas have de­vel­oped open source hard­ware and soft­ware to fa­cil­i­tate new forms of erotic ex­pres­sion. New pos­si­bil­i­ties of em­bod­ied knowl­edge un­fold through the soni­fi­ca­tion and vi­su­al­iza­tion of bio­met­ric data in­clud­ing heart rate and R-R in­ter­vals, as well as data from an ul­tra­sonic rangefinder bra, a pres­sure sens­ing chok­ing col­lar, touch sen­si­tive dress and a mo­tion sen­si­tive glove that con­trols a strap-on vi­bra­tor. Wear­able elec­tronic gar­ments allow the per­form­ers to ex­per­i­ment with tran­sreal em­bod­i­ment, ex­tend­ing their phys­i­cal bod­ies son­i­cally and vir­tu­ally. virus.?circus at­tempts to im­merse the au­di­ence/par­tic­i­pants in an al­ter­nate re­al­ity by cre­at­ing a slip­page of per­cep­tion. Code switch­ing be­tween mixed and al­ter­nate re­al­ity, virus.?circus asks how we can use re­al­ity as a medium, res­onat­ing across a num­ber of modes in­clud­ing pub­lic space in­ter­ven­tions, per­for­mances in mu­se­ums and gal­leries, and net­worked per­for­mances.

  • Elle Mehrmand is a per­for­mance/new media artist and mu­si­cian who uses the body, elec­tron­ics, video, sound and in­stal­la­tion within her work. She is the singer and trom­bone player of As­sem­bly of Mazes, a music col­lec­tive who cre­ates dark, elec­tronic, mid­dle east­ern, rhyth­mic jazz rock. Elle is cur­rently an MFA can­di­date at UCSD, and re­ceived her BFA in art pho­tog­ra­phy with a minor in music at CSULB. She will teach “Elec­tron­ics for Art” at UCSD in Win­ter 2012. Elle is a part of the Elec­tronic Dis­tur­bance The­atre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. Lab, and she is a re­searcher at CRCA (Cen­ter for Re­search and Com­put­ing in the Arts) at UCSD. Her work has been shown at Los An­ge­les Con­tem­po­rary Ex­hi­bi­tions (LACE), the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art San Diego (MCASD), High­ways Per­for­mance Space, Or­ange County Mu­seum of Art (OCMA), UCLA Freud Play­house, CECUT, the Nevada Mu­seum of Art, and the Gallery of the Na­tional Col­lege of Art and De­sign. Her per­for­mances have been shown in Los An­ge­les, Long Beach, San Diego, San Fran­cisco, Ti­juana, Mon­treal, Dublin, Is­tan­bul and Bogotá. Her work has been dis­cussed in Art21, the LA Times, Jux­tapoz Mag­a­zine, Net­worked Per­for­mance, the OC Weekly, Furtherfield.?org, the City­Beat and VICE mag­a­zine.
  • Micha Cárde­nas is an artist/the­o­rist whose tran­sreal work mixes phys­i­cal and net­worked spaces in order to ex­plore emerg­ing forms of queer re­la­tion­al­ity, biopol­i­tics and DIY hor­i­zon­tal knowl­edge pro­duc­tion. She will be start­ing her PhD study at Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Media Arts and Prac­tice PhD pro­gram in Fall 2011 and is cur­rently the In­terim As­so­ci­ate Di­rec­tor of Art and Tech­nol­ogy for UCSD’s Sixth Col­lege in the Cul­ture, Art and Tech­nol­ogy pro­gram. She was pre­vi­ously a lec­turer in the Vi­sual Arts de­part­ment and Crit­i­cal Gen­der Stud­ies pro­gram at UCSD. She is an artist/re­searcher with the UCSD School of Med­i­cine, CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Cal­it2. Her re­cent pub­li­ca­tions in­clude Trans De­sire/Af­fec­tive Cy­borgs, with Bar­bara Fornssler, from At­ro­pos Press, “I am Tran­sreal”, in Gen­der Out­laws: The Next Gen­er­a­tion from Seal Press and “Be­com­ing Dragon: A Trans­ver­sal Tech­nol­ogy Study” in Code Drift from CThe­ory. Her col­lab­o­ra­tion with Elle Mehrmand, “Mixed Re­la­tions,” was the re­cip­i­ent of the UCIRA Emerg­ing Fields Award for 2009. She has ex­hib­ited and per­formed in bi­en­ni­als, mu­se­ums and gal­leries in cities around the world in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les, Ti­juana, New York, San Fran­cisco, Mon­treal, Alexan­dria, Egypt, Bo­gota, Colom­bia, Malaga, Spain, Saas-Fee, Switzer­land and Dublin, Ire­land. Her work has been writ­ten about in pub­li­ca­tions in­clud­ing Art21, the As­so­ci­ated Press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC World and Wired.