12.Mar.14 Evening Demo: Marco Donnarumma presents his Xth Sense Instrument and on the subject of emergence

By | March 9, 2014

The Xth Sense: Bodily Emergence as a Model for the Performance of Incarnated Sound

– by Marco Donnarumma –

WHEN: Wednesday, March 12th, 5:00PM
WHERE: NYU Music Department
24 Waverly Place, Room 220, NY 10003


In this talk, I will tackle the issue of physicality in embodied musical performance with digital instruments. I will argue that physicality is emergent. That is, physicality is constituted by a continuous transformation of the body which originates from visceral and unconscious mechanisms entangled with finished embodied actions. Originally developed by the British emergentists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the notion of emergence is used in the frame of technology-mediated music performance to motivate a composition and performance strategy that leverages and challenges the player’s physical skills. Such theoretical approach will be the demonstrated in the practical context of a performance entitled Ominous, for the biophysical musical instrument Xth Sense. This is a free and open, biotechnological instrument that captures the performer’s body bioacoustic sound and use it as both musical material and processing parameter. The Xth Sense, which I created in 2011, has been my favourite musical instrument for the past 3 years, and it is used in diverse contexts by an increasing community of artists, composers and performers.

Ominous | Incarnated sound sculpture (Xth Sense) from Marco Donnarumma on Vimeo.




Performer, body tinkerer, biotech creator and writer Marco Donnarumma explores the dimensions of the body in relation to real, virtual and cultural space. Using natural and technological media, his works disrupt the flesh to uncover unknown traits of human nature. He is known for his wide range of body-based creations, that include intense physical performance, sound, light and video, Butoh, dance and media theatre. He makes open biotechnologies and bodily interactive systems. Currently, as a PhD student at Goldsmiths London with Atau Tanaka and Matthew Fuller, he investigates how body theory can provide perspectives on the design of combined biosensing and machine learning technologies for music and the performing arts. He is a Harvestworks Creativity + Technology = Enterprise Fellow (New York, US) with support by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Marco has performed and spoken in over 50 countries including US, South America, Europe, India, China, South Korea and Australia. His works have been selected at leading art events (ISEA, Venice Biennale, WRO Biennale), specialized festivals and venues (Transmediale, FILE, Panorama, NYEAF, Sound Art China, CYNETART, Piksel; STEIM, EMPAC, Stanford CCRMA) and major academic conferences (CHI, NIME, ICMC, Pd Con, Linux Audio). He is the editor of Biotechnological Performance Practice (eContact! 14.2), a comprehensive publication on biotech in the performing arts. His writings have appeared in the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (MIT Press), in the book “New Art/Science Affinities” (CMU, Studio for Creative Enquiry), and several times in specialised conference proceedings.

He’s the recipient of several awards, most notably, the 1st prize in the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition (Georgia Tech, US) for the biophysical instrument Xth Sense, and the 2nd prize in the Transitio New Media Art Contest (MX) for the private installation Nigredo, created with Marije Baalman. He has been artist in residence at STEIM (NL), Inspace (UK), and National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance (DK). Hiswork has been funded by the European Commission, British Council, Creative Scotland, New Media Scotland, and the Danish Arts Council. His projects have been reviewed on BBC, Forbes, Reuters, Wired, RTVE, El Pais, ResonanceFM, Weave, Create Digital Music, We Make Money Not Art and Digicult.