The Director of the Arts Administration program at Boston University, Lanfranco Aceti is proud to announce, Sound Politics, to be performed at the Boston AthenaeumSeptember 30, 2016, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pmSound Politics is a curated project that includes two performances, Duty and Untitled for Cyborg String Quartet, by Australian artist Michaela Davies.

These pieces explore the application of electric muscle stimulation (EMS) to musical composition and performance. MIDI compositions created by the artist are used to trigger custom-built EMS devices that send electrical impulses to performers’ muscles. These impulses generate specific involuntary movements, causing the performers to ‘play’ their instruments.

The performances explore the complexities of contemporary living in an ‘electrified’ and ‘engineered’ age where the will of the people appears to be determined by involuntary reactions to electronically mediated stimuli. The performances will arrive in Boston following a staging under the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“In an evermore engineered world,” explains curator Lanfranco Aceti, “questions abound regarding the role of the individual in the structure of contemporary society. The hyper-designed, hyper-controlled and hyper-surveyed structures of governments and corporations alike appear to have engineered systems of oppressions in which a simple task can become a Kafkian nightmare. Trapped in these nets of electric and wireless connections, individuals are loosing the ability to shape and design the public and private spaces within which they live. Michaela Davies’ performances focus on the struggle of the body, the poetics of resistance and the social politics of power and powerlessness. This area of aesthetic investigation obliges the viewer to see, manifested in the physical forms of EMS cables and patches, the myriads of external controls affecting our behaviors daily. The world offered by Davies in front of our eyes is one of a poetical dystopia where the sound compositions reflect the socio-political struggles of the body. It is the hidden power (electric, psychological, behavioral, social), transforming the individual into an homologated entity, that the artist displays through an aesthetic of the quotidian and the virtuosity of sound. It is for this reason that Sound Politics – an exhibition of the two performances Duty and Untitled for Cyborg String Quartet – has become the title of this event at the Boston Athenaeum in Boston, with the intention of celebrating and analyzing the historical fighting of individuals against superimposed controls in the quest for freedom.”

Special for ArtWeek Boston, artist Michaela Davies will give a Master Lecture about her work following the performances.

This event is sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Cuts and the Australian Council for the Arts with the gracious support of the Boston Athenaeum10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 United States, + Google Map. The Master Lecture by Michaela Davies, part of THE SOCIAL conference, is supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities.

This performance is part of THE SOCIAL, the International Biennial Conference of Visual Culture. The conference and its programs of events are free for speakers and attendees. If you wish to join the conference please register hereThe program of THE SOCIAL can be accessed here.

If you wish to support the Museum of Contemporary Cuts and its art programs we have a Kickstarter for the artworks at this link.

Image credit: Michaela Davies, Duty, 2014. Photograph: Boris-Bagattini. Courtesy of the artist.

Michaela Davies is an Australian artist and musician with a doctorate in psychology, and fuses these multiple disciplines in her work.

Her work investigates sonic possibilities, human limits and the nature of free will, using electric muscle stimulation and other methods to both obstruct and extend human capabilities. Over the last decade Michaela has amassed a catalogue of work around these themes, shown at galleries and festivals across the globe including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Experimental Intermedia New York, Currents International New Media Festival, ISEA, Mona Foma Festival Hobart, and Sonica festival UK where she was 2013 Artist in Residence.

In 2014 Michaela received a Creative Australia Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, and in 2015 her work Duty was awarded an Honorary Mention in Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) for Digital Musics & Sound Art. Michaela’s creative practice is informed by an interest in the role of psychological and physical agency in creative processes, and the liminal space between didactic execution and free interpretation inherent both in musical performance and beyond.