By creating algorithmic and graphical data from tender kisses and a headset with electrodes, does the «E.E.G. KISS» of the Dutch artists Lancel & Maat introduce a part of sentimentality in new digital prototypes?
Beyond the feelings and human emotions it conveys, can a kiss between two individuals be used to build up a specifically dedicated database? This is the curious question raised by the E.E.G. KISS apparatus created by two Dutch artists Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat.
True work in progress, E.E.G. KISS is fully in line with the artistic and social laboratory work carried out by this couple – in life as well as in implementation – since items like Paranoid Panopticon or Agora Phobia (Digitalis). They explain, “We aim to design for sensitive, sensory embodied perception in mediated realities, by extending the private body with immersive technology for augmented human-networked interaction”.
Actually, the apparatus appears at first as a true hybrid meeting ritual between two individuals, “deconstructing and creating a new synthesis for the sensory acts of kissing (such as seeing each other; touching lips, synchronizing etc.)”. But beyond its physical nature, all the data from this emotional relationship is picked up, quantified and analysed through electroencephalogram (E.E.G.) headsets.
“E.E.G. KISS” performance, by Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat, 22/9/14:
“In E.E.G. KISS the intimate act of two people kissing is translated by EEG measurements of brainwaves into data charts on screen”, says the couple. “The E.E.G. data is then translated into an algorithm for a music score visible on the screen. The music score will be played in low frequencies including infra sound (trembling sound) to be perceived as an audio-haptic orchestration and visual experience”. Other tracks, such as connection with a 3D printer, a kind of kiss prosthesis, are being developed.
Towards a community of ritualised digital kisses?
Initially experimented by Lancel & Maat only, within a performance framework subject to comments from the public (via a genuine questionnaire), the apparatus has been used for other live configurations. “To our great surprise many participants wanted to kiss”, they say.
“E.E.G. KISS” at the Discovery Festival in Amsterdam, 2014:
“The results we collect are about the imagination of the E.E.G. charts in relation to kissing; and if and how E.E.G. data charts show when people relate intimately”. These charts then allow us to establish an atypical portrait gallery. “Parallel to that, we are investigating how kissers identify with the charts as ‘kissing portraits’. People love to have their ‘Kissing Portrait’, and we plan to hold an exhibition for that as well”.
A partnership leadership that should soon be combined with a more community orientation through the Global E.E.G. KISS project. “In Global E.E.G. KISS, the measurements will be further used to create a community, real-time digitally networked ‘kiss-ritual’ to be experienced on- and off line”.