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Credit: Onuk-ZKM

Marco Donnarumma (DE/IT)

Corpus Nil is a music performance exploring hybrid forms of identity and musicianship. It does so through an intense and ritualistic interaction between an artificially intelligent musical instrument, a human body and sound

The space is completely dark. The player, whose body is partly naked and partly painted in black, performs a tense choreography that gradually morphs his body.

Two types of wearable biosensors transmit data from the performer’s body to the software: microphones capture sounds from muscles and internal organs, and electrodes capture muscle voltages. Using particular audio-analysis algorithms, the instrument re-synthesizes the bodily sounds by orchestrating a network of digital oscillators. Further, the instrument learns the nuances of the performer’s movement and thus chooses whether to activate particular oscillators, how to regulate volumes, glissandos and multi-channel diffusion, and how to adjust feedback amounts within the network.

The player cannot control the instrument, but only learn how to affect it and be affected by it. The piece discards conventional performer-instrument relationships—founded on the performer’s full control of the instrument—in favor of an unstable corporeal engagement between the two. Through the rhythm of sound, vibration and light, the performer’s body and the instrument mutate, physically and conceptually, into something “other”; an unfamiliar creature defying the common definition of the human.

Author, research, concept, music, choreography, light design, performance, programming: Marco Donnarumma
Additional programming and research: Baptiste Caramiaux
Stage production: Margherita Pevere
Photography: Onuk and ZKM
Supported by: EAVI, Goldsmiths, University of London
Research funding: European Research Council