MAGNETIC BODY INSTRUMENT

2016

The Magnetic Body Instrument looks at the human body as an interface and explores innovative ways of hacking the body for the purpose of musical expression and performance. By embedding magnets into his fingers, and working his hands in combination with custom designed and developed electromagnetic instruments, the artist creates new modes of sound generation, musical performance and new experiences for both the performer and the audience.

Dogma Dual Axis Mono Synthesizer (DDAMS-1) was designed and created as part of The Magnetic Body Instrument and is controlled by interacting with the implanted magnets. The DDAMS-1 is an open source Arduino based 2 voice granular mono-synth with a customized dual-axis accelerometer human musical interface, midi in, line level out and programmable controller.

The project consists of a series developed electronic instruments, body hacking through embedding magnets into the artist's finder tips, a documentary that documents this process, and a live performance experimenting this new body/machine system. 

In the following two sections - Body Hacking and Instrumental Design, presents some of the research, experimentation and prototypes explored for the development of this project.

Performance images at the +++ Audiovisual Interaction International Forum in Shanghai, with performance support from Loads~Nothing.

BODY HACKING

Body hacking and modification for enhanced bodily sensation and function has always been an area of interest for me. In preparation of this project, I researched basic methods of modification for 2 months, looking into different anesthesia, what is available and safe, learning about quantity of anesthesia and it's relationship with duration of numbing sensation, what types of magnets may be safe to embed into the human body both in size and material, and what are the best tools and methods of slipping the magnet into an open wound. I finally settled on lidocaine and gold plated 1mm thick miniature circular magnets. I had wanted to purchase medical grade magnets (titanium coated 52N magnets), but they were not available to me at the time of this project.

The video on the right documents the embedding of magnets into three of my fingers, performed by myself. The gold on the surface of the magnets eroded in 2 months time and my body pushed the magnets out of my fingers. 

This is a first attempt at body modification, and I hope to experiment more in this area.

After embedding the magnets, the first three days while the wound healed were quite painful. Afterwards, as the magnets settled into my flesh, I began to feel tingling sensations when I put my hand near an outlet on the wall. I was able to detect the electricity cables in the wall, magnetize small metal objects with my fingers, and feel a strong pulling sensation under my skin when my hand was near magnetic fields. 

INSTRUMENT DESIGN

The Dogma Dual Axis Mono Synthesizer or DDAMS-1, is an open source Arduino based 2 voice granular mono-synth with a customized dual-axis accelerometer human musical interface, midi in, line level out and programmable controller. This was one of the music instruments I designed and fabricated to perform with my modified body and an array of other audio and visual hardware controllers. 

This instrument is an earlier experimentation of my attempts to disrupt the performative behavior, interaction and perception of musician and instrument, especially within electronic music.

Upper left image is a prototype designed in 2015. The idea to create a small instrument that could fit well within the musician's hand, freeing him/her to do more than knob twisting.

The two images on the right is a second iteration of this first prototype.