Beyond the Body

How will technologies transform the way we live — and die? This interdisciplinary event connects dance performances, experiences, and expert panels to explore data’s role in the “final transformation” of our bodies and minds.

Artificial Impression by Kinetech Arts, photo J Astra Brinkmann for swissnex SF

Event Details

Location

swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States

Date

November 10, 2019 from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

Cost

$10

Every day, we generate data about our daily lives. What happens when that data lives beyond us? With big data, social media, and shifting social concepts of “a good death” converging to create a digital afterlife, we explore the technology that is driving the transformation of the ways we die — and the way we are mourned. Following Dying Tomorrow, our day-long workshop on technology and death, Beyond the Body blends public talks from experts on tech and digital identity with dance performances that explore what happens when data lives beyond our bodies.

The first panel, “Our Data, Our Selves,” explores how technologies such as artificial intelligence and VR influence our minds, personalities, and behaviors: where is the line between our selves and our data? From there, “Dying Tomorrow” uses the lens of science fiction to think critically about the past and future attitudes about technology, our bodies, and mortality.

Dance performances, from Malika Fankha and Kinetech Arts, bring us back to the physical, offering insights through performances examining the conflict between machines and bodies. Guests can explore immersive experiences such as the temporary installation of Lavin, and our featured exhibition from VR pioneer Mélodie Mousset, HanaHana and Sing a Jellyfish, each of which explores consciousness through the lens of machines and alternate realities.

Join us for an evening of performances and discussions about bodies, data, and machines with experts from academia, industry, dance, and research as we imagine new futures for loss and grieving. 

For a deeper dive into the issues of death, tech, and mourning, join our Dying Tomorrow workshop earlier in the day. 

This event is presented in partnership with the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, HESAV (School of Health Sciences) in Lausanne, the University of Lausanne, and the Board of the Higher Education (DGES) of the Canton de Vaud, with local support from Kinetech Arts, the Institute for the Future, and Leonardo. 

Program

6:30: doors open
7:00: Rachel Demolis video presentation
7:10: Kinetech Arts performance, “Artificial Impression
7:35: Panel 1: Our Data, Our Selves
8:15: Malika Fankha performance, “Oxy Moron
8:40: Panel 2: Dying Tomorrow
9:10: Afterparty and Experiences

Performances

Kinetech Arts, Artificial Impression

Artificial Impression, a new work by Kinetech Arts, reflects on the permanence of digital crumbs we leave behind. Processed through machine learning (ML) and aided by artificial intelligence (AI), fragments of ourselves become permanent impressions that stay, even after our physical body ceases to exist. Artificial Impression will be performed with Adagio de l’intérieur, a kinetic sound installation by Patricia Alessandrini, in collaboration with Michael Koehle and Weidong Yang.

Malika Fankha, Oxy Moron
Oxy Moron is a play of multiple selves and their constant, seamless shape-shift between fiction and reality, magic and science, present and future. Using the modern day cyborg as a metaphorical narrative that unites both human appearance and machine-like behavior, the work juggles with stereotypes and challenges different concepts of a perceived norm. Identities, corporealities and social status pass through a precarious transformation between self-empowerment, self-enhancement, self-optimization and self-deformation, questioning the significance of the physical and the human in a digital age.

Experiences

LAVIN, Jieliang (Rodger) Luo and Weidi Zhang

This VR project is a conceptual response to Truth in the modern AI age. For the range of neural networks — from those trained to recognize thousands of objects to those that can only generate binary outputs — each neural network, like each human being, has its own understanding of the real world, even when the inputs are the same. LAVIN provides an immersive responsive experience that visually explores the understanding of one neural network, in which the real world is mapped to 50 daily objects. LAVIN constantly analyzes the real world via a camera, and presents the viewer with its interpretations as a virtual world consisting of all the fluid, abstract structures that are designed and animated limited to those objects that it can recognize.

Adagio de l’intérieur, Patricia Alessandrini

Patricia Alessandrini, Adagio sans quatuor kinetic installation, Gaîté lyrique (Paris), 2016; Photo credit: Franck FervilleThis immersive installation consists of a series of metal sheets serving as speakers, as sound is transduced through them. The resulting vibration of the plates can be heard, seen, and felt. Laser projection will be employed to further articulate the visual vibration of the plates and create an aggregate image representing the sum their individual modes of vibration. By separating a complex sound down into its individual spectral components, the piece allows the listener to focus in on each of the timbral elements which together make up a piece of music.  In Adagio de l’intérieur  these individual elements will manifest themselves sonically, visually, and physically, creating an immersive, tangible experience that invites participants to explore the phenomenon of sonic vibration. (Photo: Patricia Alessandrini, Adagio sans quatuor kinetic installation, Gaîté lyrique (Paris), 2016; Photo credit: Franck Ferville)

Sound & Vision, Mélodie Mousset

Experience the current exhibition in the swissnex Gallery, which uses virtual reality to create a synesthetic blur between mind, body, and machine. HanaHana is an award-winning VR sandbox where players experience a call to adventure and creativity, using their life force to seed the landscape with giant hands, which bloom and unfurl like flowers. An iteration of Sing a Jellyfish will also be presented, where players can submerse themselves to sing through the body of a deep sea creature.

Panelists

Francesca Bosisio

Francesca Bosisio holds a PhD in health psychology and was trained in Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is currently Head of research at the Collaboratoire, the research-action unit of Lausanne University, Lecturer at the Chair of geriatric palliative care of the Lausanne University Hospital, and Senior advisor to the Canton Vaud Medical Officer. Her activities include promoting citizen science and scientific mediation in the field of genomic medicine, personalized health, human enhancement, aging, and dying.

Ajay Chander

Ajay Chander leads R&D teams in imagining and building new human-centric technologies and products. His work has spanned transparent AI, AI life assistants, digital healthcare and wellness, software security, and computational behavior design. He has received several best paper awards, as well as the ACM’s “Most Influential Paper” (of the decade) award. He received his PhD from Stanford University, and serves as the Vice President of Research at Fujitsu’s R&D lab in Silicon Valley, providing technical and thought/strategy leadership for all aspects of the interplay between technology and the human experience.

Rachel Démolis

Rachel Démolis is a social anthropologist who has served as a lecturer in Sorbonne University, having first developed research in anthropology of Orthodox Judaism, then worked in the field of Global Public Health, leading research on logics of cholera vaccine refusals in Mozambique (Gates foundation), WHO-funded research on dynamics of acceptability for new technologies for immunization, and currently works at Haute École de Santé Vaud (HESAV) in Switzerland, pursuing research on anthropological perspectives on polypharmacy among the elderly (Swiss National Science Foundation, FNS), assisted suicide and the use of technology in pain treatments, incorporating visual anthropology in her practice.

Malika Fankha

Malika Fankha studied theatre in Zurich and contemporary dance in Salzburg (SEAD) and NYU (Tisch School of Performing Arts). She works internationally as a dancer, choreographer, sound poet and DJ. Her performative work aims to blur the hierarchies between genres, to collapse the threshold of binary and normative social codes such as male and female, artificial and human, intimacy and representation. Using multiple narratives with both body and voice she spectrums the utopian and dystopian characteristics of popular media culture, posthumanism, and trivia, while at the same time declaring everything to be within the textual, visual, and emotive space of poetry. Among others, she has been collaborating with SUPERAMAS, Tino Sehgal, Deborah Hazler, Valérie Reding, Saar Magal and Maureen Kaegi. (Photo © Tim Tom)

Daiane Lopes da Silva

Daiane Lopes da Silva is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and Artistic Director and co-founder of Kinetech Arts. Her work has been performed in Brazil, France, Belgium, Greece and the U.S. She has received support from Zellerbach Family Foundation, CA$H Grant, Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and CounterPulse. She was a resident artist at SAFEhouse arts, CounterPulse and Headlands Center for the Arts. Daiane studied at The Municipal Ballet of São Paulo, Brazil and at P.A.R.T.S (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in Brussels. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, Alpha Beta Kappa, from SFSU. She is on faculty at Alonzo King Lines Ballet Dance Center and Western Ballet.

Sean Mulholland

Sean MulhollandSean Mulholland is fascinated by human computer interaction and how technology affects human to human interaction. As the techie of the family, Sean has been the digital archivist for several loved ones over the years. These experiences sparked his interest in exploring the new and emerging ways we can use technology to preserve our memories, and how our loved ones might access and experience them after we’re gone. Currently Sean works at IDEO as a Design + Team Lead focusing on new ventures, media, and technology, where he has led innovation and product design projects for numerous Fortune 100 companies. His craft expertise focuses on multimodal user experience design, prototyping, and research using a variety of digital and physical methods. His work on these topics been presented, published, and exhibited on four continents.

Megan Rosenbloom

Megan Rosenbloom is the co-founder and director of Death Salon, the event arm of The Order of the Good Death, and a leader in the Death Positive movement. She is on a research team out to find the historic and scientific truths behind the world’s alleged books bound in human skin, or anthropodermic bibliopegy, and has a narrative non-fiction book about the history and ethical implications of this practice, tentatively titled Dark Archives. She is Associate Director for Instruction Services at the Norris Medical Library of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Megan is a medical librarian with a keen personal interest in the history of medicine and rare books, Obituary Editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, and President of the Southern California Society for the History of Medicine.

Artists

Patricia Alessandrini

Patricia Alessandrini, Adagio sans quatuor kinetic installation, Gaîté lyrique (Paris), 2016; Photo credit: Franck FervillePatricia Alessandrini is a composer/sound artist creating compositions, installations, and performance situations which are for the most part interactive and intermedial. Her works have been presented in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and more than 15 European countries. She performs research on immersive experience, embodied interaction, and instrument design for inclusive performance. She studied at the Conservatorio di Bologna, Conservatoire de Strasbourg and IRCAM (Paris), and holds PhDs from Princeton University and the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC). She currently teaches at Stanford University/CCRMA, where she performs research on embodied interaction and immersive experience, including instrument design for inclusive performance. She is published by Babelscores, and her works may also be accessed at patriciaalessandrini.com.

Jieliang (Rodger) Luo
Jieliang (Rodger) Luo is an AI researcher and artist who focuses on reinforcement learning and robotics. His artworks have been featured at SIGGRAPH, SIGGRAPH Asia, IEEE VIS, CURRENTS, and major galleries in US, China, and Korea. He also publishes machine learning papers at leading conferences, like ICRA and CoRL. Luo will co-present the interactive AI/AR experience, LAVIN.

 

Weidi Zhang

Weidi Zhang is a new media artist. Her art practices focus on experimental visualization in VR environments. Her works are featured at SIGGRAPH, Times Art Museum, Topaz Art Center, IEEE Vis, etc. Currently she is a Ph.D student in Media Arts and Technology Program at UC Santa Barbara. Zhang will co-present the interactive AI/AR experience, LAVIN.

Performers

Malika Fankha

Malika Fankha © Tim TomMalika Fankha studied theatre in Zurich and contemporary dance in Salzburg (SEAD) and NYU (Tisch School of Performing Arts). She works internationally as a dancer, choreographer, sound poet and DJ. Her performative work aims to blur the hierarchies between genres, to collapse the threshold of binary and normative social codes such as male and female, artificial and human, intimacy and representation. Using multiple narratives with both body and voice she spectrums the utopian and dystopian characteristics of popular media culture, posthumanism, and trivia, while at the same time declaring everything to be within the textual, visual, and emotive space of poetry. Among others, she has been collaborating with SUPERAMAS, Tino Sehgal, Deborah Hazler, Valérie Reding, Saar Magal and Maureen Kaegi. (Photo © Tim Tom)

Kinetech Arts

Daiane Lopes da Silva photo by Weidong YangKinetech Arts is a group of artists and scientists creating unique performances that combine dance and science with the newest interactive technology. Founded by Artistic Directors Weidong Yang and Daiane Lopes da Silva in January 2013, Kinetech Arts has performed at ODC theatre, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, KUNST-STOFF arts, L.A.S.T festival, Moscone Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, Djerassi, De Young Museum, among others. They host DanceHack, an annual tech + dance event, in association with CounterPulse SF. Kinetech Arts was recognized by the SF WEEKLY as “Best Genre-Defying Sci-Artistic Collaboration of 2014.”

Facilitator

Eryk Salvaggio

Eryk Salvaggio is an artist, writer, and researcher at swissnex San Francisco, where he explores the potentials — and consequences — of emergent technologies. Once dubbed “the Harry Potter of the digital vanguard,” Salvaggio was an early pioneer of the net.art movement, exhibiting internationally with his work covered in The New York Times and NBC News. His project, Fluxus Ex Machina, used artificial intelligence to produce 100 performance art pieces. He holds an MSc. in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics.

 

LifeCycle Series

Throughout 2019, swissnex San Francisco will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines to explore the questions we confront in an age of CRISPR, genetics, the datafication of DNA, artificial intelligence, and synthetic biology. Connecting artists and scientists, the LifeCycle series will pose challenging questions about where we want our tech to take us: not only looking at what is possible today, but how to be responsible stewards of our new health tech revolution.


Photo: Artificial Impression by Kinetech Arts, photo J Astra Brinkmann for swissnex San Francisco. 

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