touch (2016) 

for voice and responsive user body interface (RUBS)

performed at the 2016 WAVE EQUATION electronic concert series in Vancouver, Canada. 

premiere: november 7, 2016 western front, vancouver, bc


This piece was developed around Lakoff and Johnson’s theory of the embodied mind, in which the same biological mechanisms that inform physical perception also create and affirm our conceptual reality. The text expresses a reliance on tactile validation – “when you touch me / I exist”. The performer-as-subject comes into being when impressed upon by external influences, just as the RUBS only “comes alive” (through audio triggering and live processing) when touched by the performer. Fels describes the relation between player and instrument as working towards the “ultimate goal” of embodying the instrument: “As a player learns an instrument, he becomes more intimate with it. The ultimate goal in the process is for the player to have a high degree of intimacy such that he embodies the instrument. When the player embodies the instrument it behaves like an extension of him so that there is a transparent relationship between control and sound. This allows intent and expression to flow through the player to the instrument and then to the sound and, hence, create music” . Because the RUBS system is worn by the performer, they must explore the suit through proprioception. Thus, in practice, rehearsal, and concert the performer is exploring their own body, resulting in a more intimate and expressive method of performance, reflecting Fels’ assertion that instrumental embodiment occurs through intimacy and transparency.