PACT ZOLLVEREIN ESSEN | MARCO DONNARUMMA: I AM YOUR BODY
FELLOW: Marco Donnarumma
What do sounds mean to those who do not hear them? How can something be heard that cannot be heard? What sensory gaps are created by assistive technologies such as prosthetics and artificial intelligence (AI)?
The solo performance of I AM YOUR BODY by Marco Donnarumma offers a synaesthetic experience into a radically alternative sensorium. By repurposing and reappropriating AI algorithms and prosthetics developed for normative hearing, the performance interweaves sound, movement and light.
Electromechanical transmitters lie on the table, muscle sensors that make the physical – movements, palpitations, the blood flowing through the veins – audible and tangible. Marco Donnarumma develops musical instruments that make body sounds perceptible. To do this, he worked with AI robotics and new interfaces for musical expression. The five-member research group was able to experiment with these instruments as part of the I AM YOUR BODY project. They were people who have been deaf or hard of hearing since birth or who live with a cochlear implant, ranging from 15-year-old teenagers to 57-year-old electromechanics. With this very heterogeneous group, Marco Donnarumma explored the question of what sound means and how sound is perceived by deaf and hard of hearing bodies. The project aimed to expand the understanding of sound beyond the boundaries of normative hearing and to celebrate the interdependence of physical experiences. Donnarumma is hard of hearing himself; in 2014 he was diagnosed with genetic, bilateral degenerative hearing loss. The participants shared their experiences at digital meetings and in workshops. Here we saw “how important it is for deaf and hard of hearing people to have a physical and mental space to exchange thoughts, concerns and questions about our physical experiences without being disturbed,” notes Marco Donnarumma. They talked about what sound can be – including vibration and light. Light filters were used to visualise – based on the individual hearing curve – what each participant can and cannot hear. The research is the inspiration for Donnarumma’s solo performance, which was premiered at PACT Zollverein in September 2023. An additional program with an exhibition, video installation, lectures and group discussions will complement the performance and make the creative work process understandable. Building on feminist theory and critical disability studies, this project seeks to promote a dialog between movement research, interactive music and human-computer interaction.
Marco Donnarumma (DE / IT) is an artist, performer, stage director and theorist weaving together contemporary performance, new media art and interactive computer music since the early 2000s. He manipulates bodies, creates choreographies, engineers machines and composes sounds, thus combining disciplines, media and technology into an oneiric, sensual, uncompromising aesthetics. He is internationally acknowledged for solo performances, stage productions and installations that defy genres, and where the body becomes a morphing language to speak critically of ritual, power and technology.
Founded in 2002, PACT Zollverein in Essen is a production house with a special focus on performing arts in relation to science, contemporary theory and social topics. The house initiates and promotes experimental, artistic and transdisciplinary forms of knowledge production. Within an international stage programme, PACT presents co-productions, premieres and guest performances and realizes discursive formats such as symposia and festivals in the platform area. As a residency venue, PACT is a central place of work and activity for international and local artists. Together with six other central institutions in Germany, PACT is a member of the Alliance of International Production Houses.
Photos: © Dirk Rose