[ISEA2016] Artist Statement: Michelle Lewis-King — Pulse Project: A Sonic Investigation Across Bodies, Cultures And Technologies

Artist Statement

Performance, 2011-2016. Acupunctosonoscope, Acetate, Note-paper

“Pulse Project: A Sonic Investigation Across Bodies. Cultures And Technologies” is a doctoral performance research series exploring the relational interfaces between medicine, culture and technology. This performance embraces the Cultural R>Evolution theme by using the intercultural human technology of Chinese medicine in tandem with electronics to materialise the body as it exists between cultures and across time. This project takes the durational practice of Chinese medicine and engages with a globalised Hong Kong audience from an inverse angle arriving from the West via using the performance of ‘Chinese’ medicine by a “Western” artist and Chinese medicine scholar to question and test the coherences of medicine, art, technology, East, West, modern and pre-modern and to explore the complexity of contemporary identity and intercultural dialogue and exchange.
In this study, Michelle Lewis-King embodies research practice itself through adopting the role of artist-acupuncturist-investigator and acting as an instrument or medium between herself and others and between cultural traditions for understanding and mediating the body. Pulse “reading,” case histories, notations of pulses and acupuncture point locating are all used together as methods for exploring the cultural encounter between artist, participants and diverse medical practices. Drawing upon my experience as a clinical acupuncturist (with training in biomedicine), she uses traditional Chinese medicine and music theories together technology to compose bespoke electronic soundscapes expressive of an individual’s “being” that registers along a spectrum between Asian and Western approaches to the body. These soundscapes (composed from pulse readings and a modified sonic acupuncture point location device via the Acupunctosonscope) are not sonifications of western principles of circulation but offer another perspective to conceive of/listen to the interior spaces of the bodyas each participant’s pulse is interpreted as a unique set of sound-wave images based on traditional Chinese pulse diagnosis (a complex set of 28+ waveform images corresponding to states of being) and also according to traditional Chinese music theory.
For ISEA2016, Lewis-King is creating a new work of performance research using pulse reading and an point finding instrument. The instrument (called an Acupunctosonoscope an electro-acupuncture device she has modified to produce amplified sounds of acupuncture points) will be used to test out and materialise the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) notion of the body. As the Acupunctosonoscope only responds to the infrasonic signals that collect within the acupuncture points at their specified locations along the body and not to the ‘electrical’ activity of the (biomedical) nervous system, Lewis-King would use the Acupunctosonoscope to investigate and materialise an embodiment that differs to our modern conception of the body. Each participant will be seen individually and shall be thoroughly informed about and consent to the performance procedure via bilingual participant information sheets (English/Cantonese). The Acupunctosonoscope is completely safe to use on members of the public.

projectanywhere.net/pulse-project-a-sonic-investigation-across-bodies-cultures-and-technologies-michelle-lewis-king  codephd.wordpress.com   soundcloud.com/cosmosonicsoma/sets

  • Michelle Lewis-King (USA). Her current research brings together her transdisciplinary experience in contemporary art, multimedia, performance, sound/music and clinical medicine. In 2011 she initiated Pulse Project, an ongoing performance research series that draws upon her experience as an artist-acupuncturist working within the contexts of the (Western) biomedical clinic. Pulse Project re-stages the clinical encounter as a frame for investigating occluded, invisible and temporal aspects of embodied experience from diverse perspectives as a means for opening the hidden processes of clinical investigation outwards towards social debate and renegotiation. Particularly, Pulse Project materializes the human body’s imperceptible emergences through shaping infrasonic signal/sounds into unique digital soundscapes that reflect the unique rhythmicity of individual being-in-time. New interconnections between early Chinese medical philosophy, biomedicine and technology are investigated and performed as a means of reconsidering notions of the ‘body’ to reflect a quantum intercultural vision of being. For this reason, Lewis-King’s soundscapes and notations are not composed according to the Western concept of embodiment, but offer a cross-cultural perspective to conceive of/listen to the interior spaces of the body.

Full text and photo (PDF) p. 177-179