Ataraxy was composed and presented as part of a nine day fellowship at the New England Conservatory's Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP) in 2019.
Ataraxy was an installation for live-processed EEG data that invited the audience to interact with the artist/programmer. Attendees were instructed to disrupt the performer's focus, creating a sonic texture derivative of the performer's unconscious reactions.
Programmed in Max/MSP, it uses multiple software copies of the venerable ARP 2600 synthesizer running inside of a poly~ object, all of which were controlled by information from a custom signal processing environment to allow neural activity to modify parameters inside of the parallel ARP instances.
Inspired by the vulnerability displayed in Marina Abramović's The Artist is Present, Ataraxy intended to address the space between the performer and the audience, and by extension collapse the formalized structures that separate people. By using unconscious brain data to control the sonic texture, the agency of the artist is removed. This turns the artist himself into an instrument to be performed by attendees.
Continuing my previous work with the differences between internal and external spaces, a sample of the artist's breathing was used and only audible when the performer was calm and focused. The very nature of speaking and human interaction dictates, the artist's focus will be disrupted during interaction with other people, reflecting how the normal equilibrium of the individual is disrupted by every interaction, no matter how innocuous.
OpenBCI Ultracortex Headset
Composer Dan Antoniu controlling the installation.