Dissectionata is an interactive sound installation developed for the IN-SONORA V festival for sound art and was presented for the first time at the Espacio Menos1 gallery (Madrid, Spain, 2009).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOZjJhOsf64]

As in the previous works of DissoNoiSex, this installation explores the notion of interactivity by connecting two different dimensions: sound and sex. Notions such as control, (un)predictability, repression, privacy, even intimacy, are put into question through a rather simple mechanism that eventually may fall between the categories of “artwork” and “socio-technological experiment”.

Both sound and sex —as the main objects of reflection in the work of DissoNoiSex— are clear manifestations of life. But certain technologies related to both sound and sex can blur the borders and definitions of life and death.

In Dissectionata, the visitor of the installation finds a lying female torso that emerges, as a kind of high relief, from a flat horizontal surface —similar to a table— surrounded by a number of loudspeakers. The visitors may walk around the table, exploring the details of that abstract female figure. Some parts of it are covered with fragments of aluminum paper and metal plates, and different wires those materials.

The visitors are invited to touch these metallic materials that cover the naked female body. These materials are parts of an electric circuit, so that, when the visitor touches two separated metallic surfaces, the circuit get closed —due to the connective properties of the body of the visitor— and an theremin-like electronic sound is produced. Depending on which metallic plates —i.e. which parts of the female body— are touched, the sound will be different (other parameters, such as how much surface of skin is in contact with each of the metallic plates, or which parts of the visitor’s body are actually touching the female torso, among others, also modify the sound produced by this interaction). Different users of the installation may also become part of the same electric circuit, for example by touching themselves, while at least two of them are in contact with the female body, therefore closing the circuit.

Once the visitor discovers this sound-generating mechanism and its rewarding musical possibilities, the previously silent sculpture becomes a musical instrument, and therefore other forms of relationship between ‘human’ and ‘object’ may appear. But the fact that the shape of that object is loaded with sexual connotations configures a particular kind of interaction, where the notion of ‘instrument’ cannot only be understood in a strictly musical sense. Thus, ideas of ‘exploration’, ‘curiosity’, ‘collaboration’, ‘control’, ‘virtuosity’, etc. may receive a particular meaning through the interaction with Dissectionata.

If sound is a clear manifestation of life —as opposed to the silence associated with death—, electronic sound occupies a hybrid position, as something that stands between the living and the dead. Electronic sounds have traditionally been described as lacking the aliveness of other ‘natural’ sounds, and the timbres generated by manipulating Dissectionata can easily fit in that category. Similarly, the ‘singing’ female body presented in this sound installation may also be understood as something ‘inhuman’, not really alive, but not totally dead. In this sense, its position could be similar to those of many other representations of the woman in our cultural tradition, from the Galatea carved by Pygmalion in Greek mythology to The Bride of Frankenstein, passing by the Maria in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has described the notion of ‘inhuman’ as something that, at the same time, presents a lack and an excess of life. Maybe through the interaction with Dissectionata the visitor of the installation may get a sense of this lifelessness, and eventually enjoy some sonic possibilities of this amazing life.

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