Staging Life: AI and Biotech in Art

This past March, Yvan Tina, the coordinator of the Creative Disturbance podcast project in the ArtSciLab, defended his dissertation at the School of Arts and Humanities of Aix-Marseille University in Aix-En-Provence. Yvan’s PhD program is very unique in the fact that it is a joint supervision thesis between Aix-Marseille University and UT Dallas under the direction of Professor Yannick Butel (Aix-Marseille University) and Roger Malina (UT Dallas).

Yvan presented his dissertation at Aix-Marseille University on March 16, 2018 about the use of artificial intelligence and biotechnology in art has led to a radical reformulation of theater as living performance. Below is his thesis abstract:

The use of artificial intelligence and biotechnology in art has led to a radical reformulation of theater as living performance. These technoscientific practices have displaced the subject of performance and produced various new discourses: In this study, I propose to make use of these discourses to expand the frame of theatricality to the realm of artificial life art. The displacements operated by means of theatricality in the artistic field are taking place both on the level of the artworks and the level of discourse.

In light of such operations, we see the potential of transformation relying on the use of these materials in theatrical aesthetics, as well as the obstacles found in them. Taking place between the arts and the technosciences, the study proves that the theatricality of technological works relies on the artifice of language.

The jury he presented to composed of Amos Fergombe (University d’Artois), Michael Osborne (Oregon State University), Roger Malina (UT Dallas) and Yannick Butel (Aix-Marseille University). He was awarded the title of Doctor in Performing Arts at the end of his defense.

The criteria and standards to start a PhD in France is much different than it is in the States and because of this there were a lot of administrative complexities dealing with Yvan’s PhD.

In France, it is a bottom-up system: You can only get accepted to the PhD program once you submit your proposal of your dissertation. In the US, you submit your proposal after taking doctoral exams and being admitted to the PhD program.

Because Yvan started his PhD in France then enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communications in 2014, it made things a bit more complicated. His PhD program at UT Dallas was different than in France and going through what he needed to be qualified was essential to his completion of his PhD.

Yvan is currently still conducting research at both universities and he plans on staying in Dallas this upcoming semester to work on the translation of his dissertation from French to English, take his doctoral exams, and redevelop the Metalife website so that it can be used as a research tool.

You’re Invited To…

… a party at the Malina’s this Sunday, April 15th in Dallas, Texas in celebration of Yuri’s Night! Feel free to stop by anytime from 2pm to midnight and if you are interested in coming or know of any others who would be, please email rxm116130@utdallas.edu for an official invite. We hope to see you there!

 

Marcel Cage and John Duchamp perform REUNION at Nine Evenings 2 in Seattle

On October 28, 2016 ArtSciLab team members will be performing “Data Stethoscope” brain connectome data in Seattle. Performance is dedicated to celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nine Evenings held in New York by EAT and Bell labs in 1966. 

The performing team includes: artist/musician Scot Gresham Lancaster, Tim Perkis, neuroscientist Gagan Wig and Roger Malina. The project includes also neuroscientists Micaela Chan and Neil Savalia, Art and Technology PhD student Veena Somareddy and the Make or Break gaming company, with Mike Leach and Robert Nally. A truly transdisciplinary, inter-generational, intercultural  team.

The performance will include the FMRI brain Connectome data sets for cohorts of 20, 40, 60, 80 year old. Gagan developed  a team to understand the way brain interconnections evolve with age and experience for healthy adults. The hope is to identify precursor anomalies that may lead to cognitive problems. The software has been developed with the use of data sonification to augment the data visualization of the networks, hence the title ‘data stethoscope”.

Scot Gresham Lancaster, Tim Perkis and Andrew Blanton will be performing three solos, with differing aesthetic approaches to the visualization and sound. At the conclusion of the performance, Scot has designed a chess board interface in homage to John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, who in 1968 performed a celebrated game of chess that triggered sound and music that they titled ”Reunion”.

Detailed story of the piece.

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Scot has invited Gagan and Roger to be chess performers for this chess performance in homage to John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, hence the meme John Duchamp and Marcel Cage!

To underline the appropriateness of this device, board was practiced by  University of Texas at Dallas Chess Team, which repeatedly wins national and international chess tournaments. Special thanks go out to James Stallings, Director of UTD chess program, and  to International master Zurabi Javakhadze from Georgia, who is ATEC major and member of ArtScience Lab. According to Roger Malina: his father, scientist-artist Frank Malina was an avid chess player and at home, playing chess was often the social platform for art-science technology discussions.

Scot Gresham Lancaster provides this personal recollection:

”Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to work closely with composer/performers John Cage and David Tudor. It was John Cage that connected me with Lowell Cross who designed the photoelectric enabled chess board that was an important part of the “Reunion” electro-acoustically enhanced chess match between Cage and Marcel Duchamp. I received the circuit for this chess board from Mr. Cross and built a working version of the board for a reenactment of the piece for a celebration of Cage’s work at a memorial concert at Mills College in Oakland,CA in 1998. This cemented my interest in using chess play as a source of indeterminacy as a  Post-Cage style musical performance organizing principle.

Fast forward some years later and we are working with the Art/Science lab and the Center for Vital Longevity at UTD and discover that the university has a world class chess program with full scholarships and several World Grand Masters. That program also has a new generation of digital chess boards that can be used to digitally communicate the moves of a chess game in real time. The opportunity arose to use the Art part of our Art/Science collaboration presented itself with an invitation for us to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the historic Engineering Art and Technology (EAT) 9 evenings performance. This time in Seattle and entitled 9E2. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show our work and dedication to  really fully playing at the Art/Science boundary.

The Artists on the team are seasoned performers with decades of experience but the thought occurred to us that we could integrate the symbolic representation of brain activity, the chess game, as a way to get the scientists on the project directly involved in the performance itself. So while we are using a good part of the evening to directly create music using the tools we have been developing to research by visualizing and sonifying fMRI and EEG data in many different ways. Some of these techniques proved useful for the scientists, but all were created with an idea that they would be part of a human experience and therefore be crafted to bear some artistic interest. By the end of the evening the scientists themselves are driving the form of the visual and sonic interactions directly from the chess moves they are making. The symbolic meeting of the minds driving the multi sensory experience the audience is witnessing.

Special thanks go out to James Stalling of the UTD chess program, of course, the director of the two labs collaborating on this complex and fascinating project, Drs. Roger Malina and Gagan Wig and finally my artistic collaborators Andrew Blanton and Tim Perkis.”

Here is What Malina has to say about the event:

”We are unbearable excited as we countdown for tonight’s performance! I must admit this Art-Science collaboration is one of the most interesting and difficult projects I have been involved in – more difficult than most of the research projects in astrophysics that I have been involved in, for NASA or the European and French Space Agencies! The goal of having an art-science collaboration develop both research software that will help Gagan’s team make scientific discoveries and also the artists perform compelling art is a sweet spot of art-science practice.”

 

Event 9e2 is an art exhibition and performance series commemorating “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering,” an iconic exhibition 50 years ago in New York that sparked a new era of collaboration between artists, scientists, and engineers.