Skin Response December 2009

Skin Response aka Minor Rhythms Within (2010) is the third experiment into rearranging texts using sensor data, in which words are chosen based on skin conductivity.  Changes in conductivity, caused by the filling of sweat ducts, relate to nervousness and excitement, as well as a number of biological factors.  The original text for the piece is a found poem compiled from 1930's writings about mind and body.

In Skin Response, expectations change the meaning of the work.  Phrases may be understood differently, because of the awareness that the body is affecting the language.  In the piece, marks are drawn according to variables that determine the speed of the scrolling paper and the movements of a pen.  Because the shape of the marks are determined by multiple arbitrary factors, they do not show correlations.  While a scientific instrument might show spikes related to excitement, these marks are much stranger and cannot be interpreted. Instead, the marks draw attention to changes in the body, in order to draw attention to subjective or experiential awareness of those changes. They also draw attention to differences between users. While the marks may evolve and change for one user, they are dramatically different from one user to the next.

In more precise applications of similar technology, such as lie detection, baseline skin conductivity is established, breathing, heart rate and temperature are also monitored and the subject is perfectly still, in order to isolate specific kinds of mental responses.  In this piece, there is no attempt to separate physical and mental experience.

Skin Response, December 2009