METAPHONE- test at DKTUS by Ulla West, 2013-06-13

Distinguishing Human and Machine by Vygandas ”Vegas” Šimbelis


Painting with Metaphone made by Ulla West  at DKTUS, Stockholm, June 13 2013

The Metaphone project rises from the convergence of body and machine, questioning the essentials of interaction between human and machine. The machine and participant interact in a close intertwined way, with the participant feeding the machine with biological signals. In turn the participant is strongly affected by mechanic interference. It is hard to describe who and what affects most, as Metaphone mixes all the participants’ biological signal impulses into one evocative experience.

About Metaphone

Metaphone describes physiological reactions. Emotions that are experienced are then turned into art.

“It’s about exploring the way people can share their inner world with others, how they do that and how they can view their own inner selves.”

“We use five different colours,” Simbelis says. “Green, blue and black signify excitement or arousal. Yellow and red are connected with the heart rate.”

“The next step in this research project is to carry out user studies,” Simbelis says. “I want to find out how people feel about being connected to this machine, and about sharing their feelings in this way.”

One thing’s for sure: there are people who are prepared to allow Metaphone to make paintings that illustrate their emotions – paintings that they will want to hang up somewhere, and in this way, use to share their feelings with others.

My reflections on testing Metaphone (above the painting made by the machine with my body and soul in interaction:

Following questions and ”rules” are used in everything I do during my ongoing project Evil Spirit Library (Onda Andens Bibliotek). Also when testing Metaphone.

  1. Am I curious?
  2. Is my contribution of interest?
  3. Does it fit in Evil Spirit Library? If so How?

On my way to DKTUS I also question myself about my expectations and if my expectations are positive or negative.

Positive: I realise that I am going to be left alone, that it is my own decision how long I stay and what I do.

Negative: I am uncomfortable with the cameras documenting my movements and I don’t like being used in ways I can not control.

My negative expectations are limiting and I turn the down.

The use of a largescale printer looks interesting. I focus on this:

1.The sound. Machinesound? Is the sound influenced by my presence?

2.The movements around and around in the same speed.

3.The small space in the cellar of DKTUS

4.The positions of the three cameras and my position in relation

5.The dye, when which colour and how fluid in circle and why

6.The time passing. I have no notion of how long I stay with Metaphone

7.Philosophical perspective of the machines movements around in circles. For my                     metaphone painting: over and over in the same tracks with no possibility to influence.          Like in life.

  1. Psycological perspective: Is the painting ment to be an illumination of my personality or only my emotions in the given situation?
  2. The act of painting and dying, my experiences of material and paint. To obey the media, to follow the flow, to act in the right moment. Experiences of how colours mix and blend. I enjoy without being able to interfere. My participation is my presence.
  1. I see beauty in the painting and I want to control the painted object but as far as I understand I can’t.
  2. I begin to think about what may happen if I can use metaphone in the evil spirit library readings and walkings and I question that thought. By that I start to focus on my own work and decide to stop the session, to press OFF.

I understand that I have spent about 20 minutes with Metaphone.

Leaving DKTUS I am glad to have had the opportunity to do this test. Following days I continue to think about how to make paintings from reactions on evil spirit library. During my test at DKTUS Metaphone is used to messure my reactions on being in the room with the machine, doing nothing specific. In my practise maybe it could be interesting to test the machine connected to contents of evil spirit library. I wonder if it is necessarily working in realtime or might it be possible to use the sensorboll and to record the data and use it in Metaphone to make the painting after using the sensors?

Metaphone did not interfere in my work further than that.