The exploits and musings of an artist-acupuncturist, lecturer and researcher at CoDE, Cambridge School of Art, Cambridge, UK.

Posts tagged “Art and Science


Pulse Project at STWST 48 Hours in Linz (in association with Ars Electronica)

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I am currently in residence at Stadtwerkstatt (STWST) – which is next to the main Ars Electronica building (to the left in the above photo) performing my pulse reading project from Friday-Saturday (5/9/2015) at 11:00 pm to 5 am and Saturday-Sunday from 11:pm to 5 am and am also giving a workshop today (from 5pm) to explore making personalised soundscapes using Chinese pulse diagnosis and SuperCollider audio synthesis software. This performance and workshop series is part of Shu Lea Cheang’s exhibition ‘InfoCrash 48’ at SWST in association with Ars Electronica. See this link for the other exciting projects that are going on here: (hint: there are projects that create unique soundscapes from bee hives (Bioni Samp) and another project by Martin Howse and Jonathan Kemp that creates ‘social software events’ i.e., using people’s piss interacting with objects and computer interfaces to create soundscapes –  On Monday I  fly off to Budapest to collaborate with 4DSOUND on a new interface for making pulse soundscapes – More later!!



My article ‘Touch as techne: rethinking digitality’ has been just published in Digital Creativity…

My article ‘Touch as techne: rethinking digitality’ – which is about my research on ‘inner technologies’ has been just published in Digital Creativity  (in a  special edition on Arts and Ecology) Volume 26 No.(Taylor and Francis publishers)…

Go to this link to access it:


One of my recent articles has just been published in the new peer reviewed art journal ELSE :)


ELSE – a peer-reviewed International Journal of Art, Literature, Theory and Creative Media has just released its first issue (issue 0) titled, ‘Trans-“What”?’. The publication responds to the question of what ‘Trans’ means within creative practice (and is visually stunning too). My article ‘Touching as Listening: A Translational Encounter Between Art, Science, East, West, Self and Other’ is one of the many interesting artistic and theoretical explorations of transdisciplinary practice in this inaugural issue, so please take a look!


The Hackathon @ The Port – CERN

I have just arrived back from participating in an amazing 3 day hackathon @ CERN in Geneva. In this post are some pictures of my team, the project (which is about improving land clearance of mines through improving communication between demeaning dogs and their handlers) and the presentation from day 3 of the hackathon @ The Port 2014 –

An outside view  of CERN  and a pic of mu team – Pier 83: SMART Dog

The Port0The Port2

Some images of working and discussing:



Images of the presentations (with a prototype for SMART Dog on ‘Viking’)


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This was an amazing event not only because of its location and the community it took place in (CERN!!!), but also because the organisers of this event brought innovators in technology and creativity together from across the globe to address some very urgent humanitarian issues. To say it was a ‘very inspiring event’ would be a massive understatement. – photos appear courtesy of Andrey Longinov.
To see our video to raise awareness – please use this link for youtube:


New Year – New Work

From this week (December 20th) onwards, I will be collaborating with sound artist Iris Garrelfs who is currently an AHRC PhD research fellow at LCC in London where she also lecturers on the BA Sonic Art course. This project will take my research into new directions – instead of talking pulses and composing, I will be treating Iris with acupuncture – as a form of [ethical] experimental performance study into infrasound, i.e., I will  prescribe/select points along the body to direct the oscillations of Iris’s qi into generating a resonant field that is health giving and Iris will create unique soundscapes and recordings in response. Can’t wait to see/hear the work as it unfolds!

See Iris’s extraordinary work and doctoral research here:



Recent Work (sonic studies, installations, collaborative performances, etc.)

Pulse-Huddersfield 7

Click this link to view a portfolio of recent work.

Pulse Project Performance: ‘Digital Futures’ at the V&A 11/2/2013


Images of participants appear with consent

Pulse Project was presented at the V&A’s event: ‘Digital Futures’ at the Sackler Centre together with the works of Hayden Jones and Jonathan Munro, Luci Eldrige, Dionysia Mylonaki and Pollie Barden and Chloe Varelidi – which was a fantastic opportunity to present my research at CoDE to a wider audience alongside the latest postgraduate research from Goldsmiths, the RCA and Queen Mary, University of London.

Pulse Project is an ongoing digital performance research series that critically examines the contemporary interfaces between the humanities, medicine, and technology. Pulse Project interrogates the aesthetic and philosophical axioms that underpin contemporary medicine, technology and cognitive embodiment through exploring of their corollary “Others” – pre-modern Chinese medicine and music theory. Using performance-as-research as a methodology, I embody creative research practice through becoming an instrument or medium between myself and others and between cultural traditions for understanding and mediating the body, thereby creating a unique form of research that is able to bridge: a) pre-modern practices with contemporary practices, b) Occidental and Asian approaches to the body and c) the sciences with the humanities.

During the composing process, I try to faithfully reflect my clinical and intuitive impressions of  each participant’s interior waveform landscape through years of experience as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, making clinical notes and graphic notations. Each SuperCollider soundscape is a bespoke algorithmic composition made specifically for each participant and is tailored to respond to the uniqueness of the participant taking part in the research. Each composition is constructed to both mirror participant’s pulses according to Chinese Pulse Diagnostics, yet therapeutic aspects (tones) are applied to the composition to promote health and well-being – specific to what each participant’s pulse indicates is needed. I am of course not providing a medical ‘diagnosis’ in this study, each soundscape forms a sort of musical ‘prescription’ that aims to promote well-being – according to Chinese Medicine therapeutic principles. Compositions aim to ‘harmonise’ the 5 pitches of the pulse, Gong (261.6 Hz), Shang (293.7 Hz), Jiao (329.6 Hz), Zhi (392.0 Hz) and Yu (440.0 Hz).


You can see/hear the new SuperCollider compositions (by March 15th) – or SC compositions of past performances at: 

Some more pics:


Michelle Lewis-King (foreground) with Hayden Jones and Jonathan Munro (background)


A Pulse Composition Graphic Notation


Michelle Lewis-King talking with Irini Papadimitriou (writer, curator and organiser of the Digital Futures event) and Dionysia Mylonaki (background)

research in progress


Overall, I would define my practice as the creation of participatory, socially engaged event-based performances and site-specific projects that use sound as a medium that has considerable connective, transgressive and healing capacities. Loosely located within Digital Performance and Performance-as-Research categories, my research focus has expanded its emphasis from my initial research on ‘pulse-taking’ as an art-as-research method for connecting art, science, eastern and western cultures (which I have posted about earlier in this blog), into the broader and more culturally active theme of the ‘interface’ itself. This only happened after I realised I have been persistently writing about the interface through critically examining what is currently being termed ‘interactive’ art, and the contemporary interfaces between artist, audience, gender and technology.

My creative practice forms a comparative study that investigates notion of the posthuman through contrasting the use of human touch with ‘interactive’ technologies. Touch in my work is not used in generalised or emotive senses, but is instead informed by my clinical and performance art backgrounds and seeks to interrogate the social, political and material cultures engaged in the development of human-computer interfaces and its relationship with the body, with ‘users’ and audiences. Through placing touch that uses the ancient asian healing art of divining and mapping the phenomenal landscape of human cosmology alongside of our contemporary computational mapping and mediation of physical phenomena and the social body, my study  aims to assess digital and analogue interfaces and their capacities to positively and negatively mediate self and other, art and science, human and post-human.

Prepared Performance

Pulse Reading 1

At the moment I am creating a Chinese Medical Pulse Image lexicon in SuperCollider to use as a source ‘code’ for reading pulses and making compositions… using SC Ugens and combining them with my interpretations of Chinese Pulse Images.

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This project brings together my artistic research with the metaphysical art of Chinese Pulse reading in order to create a new method for reading the body (especially internal embodied space) beyond the limitations of western biological and philosophical paradigms:

This research combines analogue / digital technologies with human touch (informed by combining fine art training with training in biomedicine and clinical Chinese Medicine) to explore sound as a transparent relational ‘medium’. My work is not simply a sonic visualisation of western clinical conceptions of the circulatory system and/or the complex metaphysical Chinese zàngfǔ jīngluò body-organ-network system, but also reflects personal intuition of an/other through reading their pulse.


Each individual’s pulse is unique set of sound-waves and images. For each person, I will interpret/read their pulse and create a unique composition of their ‘being’, using digital technology as a means to reflect my interpretations as wells as to document the moment of contact between the artist and participant.

Here is a sample of pulse reading and digital score image:

Pulse Notation 2


For sonic sample link see:

Just found out I’ll be presenting my first paper at CoDE’s First Annual Conference!!

Please Come Along!!!
Registration for the 1st Cultures of the Digital Economy Conference is now open. The conference is on 27-28 March 2012 at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge. The conference fee is £40, though this is fully subsidised by CoDE for ARU staff and research students. An optional conference dinner ticket can also be purchased for £30.
Conference details and time schedule are attached. Abstract details will also be available from the conference website in due course ( We look forward to seeing you on 27th March – and please feel free to redistribute this invite.
For those requiring accommodation in Cambridge,  the Regent Hotel, Cambridge &De Vere University Arms Hotel are within walking distance of the University. Other maps and parking details can be found on the ARU main website here:

A Visit Atop the Berkeley Hills with Artist Sonya Rapoport

Portrait of Sonya Rapoport (1960s), by Rondal Partridge

Photo: cica 1960 by Rondal Partridge

Sonya Rapoport is a conceptual artist whose body of work spans from the 1940’s to the present, an artist of great significance whose work is only now gaining the recognition it deserves. I confer ‘significance’ on her not only because her work has marked many evolutions, from painting to hybrid forms of media, but its width and breadth spans across modernism, abstract expressionism, feminism, post-modernism and beyond.

In December 2011, I visited Sonya at her studio…

Arriving at a cul-de-sac somewhere along the serpentine Redwoods Hills of the East Bay, a small white haired woman with bright eyes greets me at her studio door…
Her studio, luminous and generously proportioned, is simply furnished with two rectangular wooden tables along its central axis, some bare painting racks and shelves at one end and a computer desk at the other – under the large set of windows overlooking a tranquil courtyard garden stands an antique draughtsman’s filing cabinet.
The air retains a quality of recent frenetic activity, the studio itself having reached such a state of emptiness, I almost sense it breathing. Sonya smiles warmly at me, ushering me to a small table she has laid with tea and cake, rubs her back and tells me she is sorry she doesn’t have so much work to show me as it had just been sent off to Mills College (in Oakland, CA) for her major retrospective, ‘Spaces of Life: The Art of Sonya Rapoport’  – see:  on until March 11 2012.

Mills College, erstwhile exclusive college for women, has its own interesting history – Laurie Anderson and Sofia Coppola are notable alumnae – Steve Reich, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros have lectured there.

After we drink herbal tea and talk a little about our own lives (Sonya is so personable and open minded, I find myself telling her things I’ve not discussed with anyone), Sonya digs out a square box from her antique cabinet and places it next to me on the table, opening the lid to reveal an accordioned computer printout sheet of indeterminate length (it reminds me of my early childhood in the 70’s, my father worked at IBM… I can still see piles of  printouts with those tell-tale sprocket feed holes, horizontal column rows and perforated joins), she mentions the printouts came from her husband’s lab (the late internationally renowned chemist and esteemed Professor at University of California – Berkeley, Henry Rapoport).
I very carefully unfold the fragile paper until I can see a topographical landscape of words and images – systems of thought – which appear threaded together into very unusual associations and formations. Under the hand-drawn multicoloured lines in parallels and arcs,  are lovingly rendered pencil sketches, some details from an engineer’s drawing (or is it part of an architect’s plan?) and obscure bits of clinical data and early programming language.

The printed words appear to me as a cryptic language system of unlikely pairings, derived from unknown sources… Are they from Medieval alchemical texts? Modern chemistry texts? Both? Though the 70’s is a relatively recent decade, this sheet is already an historical artifact with tell-tale traces of her thoughts inscribed in polyphonic penciled grooves across the surface.

I came unprepared for the visit, hoping to ‘see what happens’. We talk about all manner of things, the conversation flows easily, weaving back and forth between her work and life (not unlike the lines drawn in her work); and as time passes, I begin to perceive that so many of my questions and dilemmas as wife/mother/artist have already lived a life here and been worked through in this space.
It isn’t everyday one gets to meet someone so generous and extraordinary, an artist of uncommon intellect with several children and grandchildren, who studied with the likes of Karl Zerbe, John Dewey, Hans Hofmann and yet managed not only to keep making work but to push at the boundaries of what art is. Sonya, having traveled the world and worked with some of the brightest minds of a generation, profoundly questioned into the nature of existence over a lifetime. She’s seen it all, or nearly most of it…
Sonya’s situation has been an extra-ordinary one. Her elegant craftsman house, a classic of Berkeley architecture, allows a truly breath-taking view across the bay towards the city lights of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge.
‘My husband provided this house’, she says nonchalantly.
As the wife of a significant scientist , Sonya’s travels with Henry Rapoport began with the outreach and implementation of his work, taking her to ‘3rd world’ countries, where she witnessed women living according to extreme conditions most of us in the ‘West’ were happily unaware of. These often brutal experiences altered her work, directing it towards the exploration of women in relation to global cultures, science and technology.
Housed within the milieu of the University of California/Berkeley, she found herself belonging to a set of unique friends and acquaintances… World-class mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, anthropologists, etc., all sat at her table. Under her roof was a marriage of science and art worlds unlike any other. It seems natural then, but really a stroke of brilliance on her part, to move from painting towards interdisciplinary collaborations with other artists, renowned chemists (C. Michael Lederer), anthropologists (Dorothy Wasburn) and computer developers (various) alike.

A true visionary, Sonya foresaw the impact technology would have on our private and public worlds. Pioneering into interdisciplinary interactive art before these ‘inter’ titles entered popular consciousness, her installations combined the personal with the technical.
In ‘Biorhythm Participation Performance’ (1983), Sonya adopted both scientific and artistic methods of research, asking participants to ‘self-assess’ their moods by speaking into a cassette recorder and/or write it down manually. This subjective information was then individually fed into a computer, resulting in a personalized biorhythm reading for each participant to assess against their own impressions of the event. Sonya then recorded and analysed all the resulting data, creating a chart for each participant to sign. The resulting data of this work was then fed into Sonya’s research into emergent technology, and in 1987, she created ‘Digital Mudra’, one of earliest digital interactive Internet artworks ever made. See:

At the end of my visit, as if to refine everything down to something essential, Sonya pauses then tells me her greatest joy is not whether anyone knows about her (in fact, ‘that can be a burden’), what she loves above all else is the freedom to play around with new ideas and objects in her studio  – without ever having to go anywhere or do anything else… a pure pleasure she recounts with a sparkle in her eyes. ‘I’m 88 and more and more people are inquiring about my work’, she says shrugging her shoulders. The increasing demand appears to me as a massive invisible weight on her petite person – a person which inversely houses a quicksilver ‘spirit’ extending way beyond the confines of her studio.

In a time of disembodied and perpetual information, what was truly transformative in encountering her work, was encountering the artist herself. Her life force, unique as her signature… Sonya Rapoport’s work is not the usual ‘momento-mori’, but presents to us instead a series of works as modernist networked conundrums, forever to be worked on. Contained within the body of her work, are a complex of embedded and encrypted messages, sent at the dawn of the computer age… just about to arrive at the dawn of the post-human age.

Due to be published in July 2012 is Terri Cohn’s book on Sonya Rapoport: Pairings of Polarities: The Life and Work of Sonya Rapoport, Heyday Press, 2011.

Malloy, J. (ed.) (2003) Women, Art and Technology. Cambridge, Mass., The MIT Press.

Valleys and Vistas: A Small Survey of California’s Digital Landscape

Last month I visited California to speak with artists, writers, researchers and directors – working in both historic and vanguard forms of digital media – to get a bird’s eye view of the paths being forged into the past, present and future within the fields of art and technology.

The following posts will feature a series of interviews and reports on my travels from the hills of Berkeley, Stanford University in the Silicone Valley, to the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) in paradisal La Jolla, San Diego.

Research series 1 – women and technology

It’s more or less a given that the languages of computer technology are predominantly masculine by design, so in beginning my own research navigation of the ‘emerging digital economies’, I am watching with interest ways in which women are interacting with and innovating science and technology industries.

Emerging art and science collaborations are creating a ‘music of the spheres’ – but is it harmonious?

Collaborative projects between artists and scientists are an increasing trend (popularly known as ‘hybrid art’), producing all manner of things audio-visual. Looking at the works that are emerging, from ‘sci-art’ exhibitions at the Wellcome Trust to experiemental New York project spaces, I wonder if the collaborative relationship is always an equal one.

Often the science – art collaborations I have researched are characterized by resultant popularizations of scientific aims and technological ‘advances’ , having not nearly begun to scientifically explore the creative process that artists are uniquely able to contribute towards.  However, interesting projects like those by artist Elisa Da Prado see: and Professor Dan Lloyd see:  Music of the  Hemispheres – their work travels towards a different horizon, where art and science are becoming indistinguishable. Have a look and you tell me what you think!

Beginnings – an inaugural post to introduce my new work and research.

Just a few short months ago I was astounded and elated to have been awarded a full PhD Studentship in the Digital Humanities at CoDE  – the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute. CoDE is a new multidisciplinary department established at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK and I am their first (PhD) research student.

For info on CoDE see:


I am an American artist and lecturer – also extensively trained in health sciences (Chinese Medicine and biomedicine) which inform my practice. I work mainly in sound – video installation, performance and writing (both in academic and ‘art writing’ forms) and my current PhD project researches, from a post-feminist point of view, ways to reflect tacit interior bodily experience through making connections between art and science, touch, the body and technology.

My Research Interests:

Performative and site-specific sound art – rhythmic soundscapes using binaural and 3-D sound -art and biomedical interdisciplinary collaboration – eastern and western notions of the body/mind- embodiment and digital media – art practice-as-research.

My project –

Using pulse and pulsation as theme to explore the following:

– Embodied pulse and pulsation through the creation of visual and sonic art works (practiced-based arts research).

– Development of interdisciplinary collaborative projects (both locally and internationally) involving the arts, sciences and the humanities (i.e., art creation in relation to nanotechnology, neuroscience, etc).

This blog commences the charting of my research and exploits as a Digital Humanities researcher at ARU for the next three years.