Emergent: Performing with Code (2021, in process)

The body is the database of lived experience. Body-based performance art functions as a means of considering this “data,” drawing upon it through actions and gestures that investigate, play with, and share the accumulation of experience in flesh. How then can biometric data function as performance art? Emergent involves the production of generative animations that are produced using biometric data (such as heart rate and oxygen levels) and movement trackers as a means of conveying body-based performance. My intention is to engage with the memories of the flesh, as the data of the body is used as the impetus for aesthetic encounters.

As a performance artist working with digital media, I have long been interested in how technology opens up different means of engaging with performed actions. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the production of performance art, which generally relies upon live and physically in-person presentations of work. While video and livestreaming have introduced possibilities for productions, these depend on cameras to capture and communicate action through moving image and sound. However, performance art encapsulates other sensory qualities of the body that do not always translate through lens-based media. These limits introduce creative challenges that invite new ways of producing performance art.

At the moment I am producing generative design sketches using p5.js, where code is my collaborator as I develop new means of tracing performance with digital tech. I am trying to create one a day, posting them on social media and on GitHub pages. Shifting away from lens-based media, such as video and photography, these works are the expressions and artifacts of performance. This is my sketchbook, where I present works in process(ing) and create an archive of the work as it develops.

This project is being produced with technical support from Gerald Glynn and financial support from an Arts Council Ireland Agility Award.