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Interactivity & Ritual: Body Dialogues with Artificial Systems - Part 1 of 3
by Diana Domingues

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People that interact give their body to technology in order to get the ideas stored in silicon memories. In this way, they try to receive virtual power from databases. By interacting and performing, the body experiences a physical and psychic exploration of the environment. During these dialogues, we experience modified states of consciousness by the artificial/natural, analog/digital, and real/virtual symbiosis. The post-biological feeling is a symbiosis of artificial and natural life. Do we interact to get the machine's power? Do we interact to exchange identities? When our body is connected, we share desires, beliefs, values, emotions, habits, and behaviors. Is interactivity accomplished by "carnivorous machines?" Could this interaction be compared to cannibalistic cultures where people eat pieces of human bodies in order to obtain their power?

I am reminded of this notion as I recall my recent installation, TRANS-E, My Body, My Blood. In this work, there is an electronic ritual in which people are supposed to gather artificial energy from technologies when they connect the natural energy of their bodies through sensors on the carpet. The environment feedback requires the flesh as food, and the actions of the body feed the installation. The body is swallowed by technologies and responds to the qualities of the body actions. In the installation, people try to eat the images. During the interactions, the ephemeral and mutating images change and exhibit a special emotion similar to that expressed during shamanic trances - to be an elephant, to be morphosized, to be immersed in fire, to make a cross turn around. The order is to move, interact, and then exchange energies. In this way, during the movements the scene is Oh! Ah! Oh! Ah! Ah - the concentration of people that drive the process and provoke states of communication in relation to the technologies.

What happens in this environment of immersion? The feedback provides spiritual moments through this interactive art. The invisible phenomenon forces us to process poetic data from the artists' ideas. Interactive technologies give us power to manipulate phenomena in a spiritual constructive way, and the body amalgamated to the system experiences a type of electronic trance. Intervals of time are constructed by ephemeral mutations. The body ritual stimulates associations created by the environment inside the system. In this way, I propose the interactive art of installation as a behavioral art in a ritual to be lived. An elliptical zone is established in the body that is amalgamated with the system in a sort of electronic trance by time intervals, and invisible powers move around as electricity and magnetism. The silent and abstract operation of mathematical calculations and energy waves pass through the flows. On the other hand, artificial Neural Networks make mental decisions when chewing and tasting the pixel qualities activated by the human flesh. Digital creativity in this installation is intended to reveal the artists' and scientists' capacity to invent new worlds loaded with poetic visions. My installation offers stages of trance as mediated by technologies.

Translated from Portuguese by Milton H. Bentancor.

[Created by Brazilian artist Diana Domingues, TRANS-E, My Body, My Blood will be presented at the Bienal de la Habana 2000. Please read PART 2 for more information and photos on this interactive installation in the words of the artist.]

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About the Author

Diana Domingues is a Ph.D. Professor and Investigator at the Universidade de Caxias do Sul, in Brazil. She is Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Communication and Semiotics UCS/PUCSP/CAPES, and of the Laboratory NOVAS TECNOLOGIAS NAS ARTES VISUAIS - - that develops research with professors and students from Arts, Communication, Computer Sciences, and Industrial Automation. Research is related to dialogues between biological and artificial systems regarding fields of perception propitiated by the interactivity. Inquires explore artistic and aesthetic dimensions of technologies from digital creativity in 2D and 3D, electronic processing signals, video, interfaces, sensorized system, neural network, interactive installations, web art, and robotic events.

Domingues is also an interactive, multimedia artist, and has participated in about 30 solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires, 21st Century Gallery, MNBA Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Cont

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