[ISEA2011] Panel: Elle Mehrmand & Micha Cárde­nas – Tran­sreal Bod­ies and Dig­i­tized Clones: Bridg­ing Re­al­i­ties With Sound, Bio­met­rics and Mo­tion Cap­ture

Panel Statement

Panel: Virtual Doppelgangers: Embodiment, Morphogenesis, and Transversal Action

From 2008-2011, Cárde­nas and Mehrmand have col­lab­o­rated and made in­di­vid­ual art­works which bridge re­al­i­ties and ex­tend the body son­i­cally and vi­su­ally. Through these ex­per­i­ments, they have de­vel­oped new tech­nolo­gies, aes­thetic strate­gies and forms of po­lit­i­cal em­bod­i­ment which are tran­sreal, cross­ing the lines of re­al­i­ties and using re­al­ity as a medium. These pro­jects work within what Ri­cardo Dominguez de­scribes as, “con­crete prac­tices as spec­u­la­tion and spec­u­la­tion as con­crete prac­tices – at the speed of dreams,”  ex­per­i­ment­ing with ways of link­ing their phys­i­cal bod­ies with our vir­tual dop­pel­gangers. These ex­per­i­ments form a tra­jec­tory of Sci­ence of the Op­pressed and point to­wards new lines of flight, mod­els such as tran­sreal, holo­graphic and clone iden­ti­ties. Be­com­ing Dragon ques­tions the one-year re­quire­ment of “Real Life Ex­pe­ri­ence” that trans­gen­der peo­ple must ful­fill in order to re­ceive Gen­der Con­fir­ma­tion Surgery, and asks if this could be re­placed by one year of “Sec­ond Life Ex­pe­ri­ence” to lead to Species Re­as­sign­ment Surgery. For the per­for­mance, Cárde­nas lived for 365 hours im­mersed in the on­line 3D en­vi­ron­ment of Sec­ond Life with a head mounted dis­play, only see­ing the phys­i­cal world through a video feed, and used a mo­tion cap­ture sys­tem to map her move­ments into Sec­ond Life. Sub­se­quently, Mehrmand and Cárde­nas col­lab­o­rated on Be­com­ing Tran­sreal, using ex­panded ver­sions of this tech­nol­ogy to map two avatars’ mo­tions in a slip­stream nar­ra­tive about fu­tures of nanobiotech­nol­ogy. Cárde­nas and Mehrmand began to col­lab­o­rate on mixed re­al­ity per­for­mances such as Technésex­ual, in which the per­form­ers com­mit play­ful erotic acts in phys­i­cal and vir­tual space si­mul­ta­ne­ously, using de­vices to am­plify the sound of their heart­beats for the two au­di­ences. An elec­tro­car­dio­gram was used to mon­i­tor the heart rate with an Ar­duino/Free­duino, play­ing a record­ing of the heart­beat at the live rate using Pure­data. Tem­per­a­ture sen­sors mod­u­late the pitch based on touch. DIY bio­met­rics are used to bridge re­al­i­ties with audio, find­ing ways of ex­plor­ing the space be­tween re­al­i­ties. The mix­ing of re­al­i­ties in this pro­ject can be seen as par­al­lel­ing our own ex­pe­ri­ences mix­ing gen­ders and sex­u­al­i­ties, queer­ing new media. Vir­tu­al­worlds such as Sec­ond Life fa­cil­i­tate the de­vel­op­ment of new iden­ti­ties, al­low­ing for unimag­ined re­la­tions and re­la­tion­ships. Technésex­ual looks closely at these new re­la­tion­ships, and how they af­fect our every­day lives and hori­zons of pos­si­bil­ity.

  • Elle Mehrmand is a per­for­mance 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, US, and re­ceived her BFA in art pho­tog­ra­phy with a minor in music at CSULB. She is a  col­lec­tive mem­ber of the Elec­tronic Dis­tur­bance The­atre 2.0 and the b.a.n.g. Lab, and is a re­searcher at CRCA <Cen­ter for Re­search and Com­put­ing in the Arts> at UCSD. Her work has been in­ter­na­tion­ally shown at venues such as 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, Mapa Teatro, the Nevada Mu­seum of Art, and the Gallery of the Na­tional Col­lege of Art and De­sign. She has been dis­cussed in Art­fo­rum, Art21, the LA Times, Jux­tapoz mag­a­zine, WIRED, Net­worked Per­for­mance, the LA & 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 (US) 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. vimeo.com/azdelslade

Full text (PDF) p. 352-359