Italian Sound Artist Turned Instrument at Rapid Pulse Festival
Arianna Ferrari, Italy, sits, limbs bent and forward, with her face toward the audience. From her abdomen draws ten electronic objects, transistor radios, turned on. The radios stick to her rib cage, held together with tightly bound tape. The sound omitted from the radios contact and travel through her body before reaching the loudspeaker. The tape appears to be chafing her skin. A gust of wind crawls through speaker. The performance is known as “H-Transmitter.”
On her back lay contact microphones, where the radio waves exit the human body. Visually, the experience is passive and contemplative. I sit perched above ground bearing witness to the activity down below. I read Arianna’s body language. I hear clouds of hip hop fogged by feedback and looped scratches. I think she is in pain. I wonder if she is in pain. I stare and note the shifts in her movement. I recognize the radio station that comes over the waves most powerfully. I wonder why there are ten radios. I wonder how much of this discomfort she seems to be experiencing is calculated.
Audibly, the experience feels sentient, intimate and transitory. The sound the audience receives travels directly from Arianna, creating a direct depository audio sensory experience. The human body is made up of 70% water. Sounds transmitted over the loudspeaker emerge oceanic, fading to the whispers of a seashell. Look up at Arianna. Mostly still through out the duration of the just over three hour performance, from time to time, you will see her body sway and lilt. She trembles. Her head hangs and lightly sways as if by a breeze momentarily. Slide to the next moment, she seems hardly moved or impositioned by the connected devices, stretching her limbs outward and neck upward like a mountain cat waking from an afternoon nap. The hush vibrations mocked by a swift thrash from the speaker.
The question of how human becomes machine makes human more human. The expressions crossing Arianna’s face hooked to the devices appear distinctly primal. Somehow while looking like an audio spider, Arianna gives instrument a uniquely human face. How she looks and feels, in connection to the sound waves pulsating through her body by wire, scatters visceral sentiments in the audience members. A visitor hugs the monitor to Arianna’s left. “I have never felt so connected to another human being like this,” said the visitor later. “You can feel what is moving through her.”
Photo by Myra Rodriguez
Whitney Richardson fell upon Defibrillator when looking for a home for No Lights No Lycra Chicago, a weekly dance in the dark jam, at the beginning of February. She works as a writer, community builder, food justice activist and interdisciplinary artist. She founded the Kite Collective out of New York City in 2012, using kites as a way to engage with the environment, community and the self in a way that is transient and magical. You can find her dancing at DFB on Tuesday evenings.