From August 28 to September 2, 2023, multidisciplinary artist Mariane Laporte [student member, UQAM] visited the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) for a residency supported by Espace O Lab and Hexagram. The main objectives of her stay were the creation and animation of 3D models and the design of an augmented reality application. The experiments were presented during the “Siphonophore” performance on September 2, 2023 at Jardin XR in the Agora des Arts, as part of the Festival de Musique Émergente (FME).
The audiovisual material created on this occasion will be integrated into a hybrid poetry book. This literary and performative approach to media offers a reading that is both traditional and augmented. It is the the focal point which regroups the thesis-creation’s experimentations. “Siphonophore: posthumanist feminist alternatives to procreation” is directed by Sofian Audry [co-investigator member, UQAM].
Will we choose to hide from view what can be revealed by temperature? The “sipho-cord”, a fusion between the umbilical cord and the siphonophore, is a metaphorical entity which connects the poetic intention to Mariane’s creation, which embodies all stages of an allegorical pregnancy.
1. 3D Modeling
Two prototypes were created by Jean-Ambroise Vesac [co-investigator member, UQAT] for the project’s specific needs: the “sipho-cord” (Blender) and a humanoid (Make Human).
The texture applied to the avatars’ skin (Maya) is the researcher-creator’s body which takes on the shades of colours associated with the temperature values detected by the Flir One Pro thermal camera. This abstract personification is a testimony to her intimately immodest presence.
2. Motion capture and animation of 3D models
Once the 3D models’ characterization (Maya) is completed, the movements perceived by the studio sensors are recorded, processed and sent to a 3D animation software in order to apply actions to the skeletons (Vicon, Motion Builder).
A series of preparatory birthing exercises and behavioral simulations of siphonophores in their natural environment are spontaneously performed. This method enables the author to embody the subject of her research. This archived stage is essential, as alternative, posthumanist (re)births are phenomenologically experienced.
3. Scriptwriting and augmented reality application
Short animation loops are then created (Unity). The choice of excerpts is based on the authenticity of the lived experience. The augmented reality application runs on the AR Fundation platform and operates in space by detecting flat surfaces. Finally, experimentation with the “web cam texture” script generates material that integrates the texture perceived by the camera of a device, such as an iPad or cell phone. It’s a way of superimposing physical, tangible materialities on virtually augmented bodies.
4. Sharing the creative process
The artistic approach was presented to undergraduate students enrolled in the Digital Creation program at UQAT and during a performance at Agora des Arts gallery in Rouyn-Noranda.
Poetry, immersive environments and experimental music serve two purposes:
1. Simulating the “temperature” parameter of the artificial intelligence
- Variations in the data captured live by a thermal camera influence the degree of artistic randomness, based on the artificial intelligence parameter “temperature”. Previously created soundtrack and poems are considered “neutral”. The degree of improvisation and experimental exploration fluctuates according to two factors that affect temperature – physical effort and water – which are related to childbirth. The changes are felt in the musical interpretation and poetic recitation, more specifically through effects modifying instruments and voice.
- During pregnancy, temperature is closely monitored, whether to determine ovulation or prevent damage to the fetus. This calculated and alienating experience can be transformed into a fluid expression by turning quantitative data into qualitative ones.
- Zooids connected by the stolon of the siphonophores are poikilotherms. Mother and fetus are two homeothermic beings connected by a cord. Temperature is a means of signifying the presence – or absence – of virtual and organic bodies. Thermal values and algorithms, when combined with artistic intent, can provide undeniable evidence of sensations.
2. Dividing artist and audience
- Suggest revelation
The mise en scène is concealed behind an opaque curtain near the audience. The in situ performance, seemingly inaccessible, is mediated by technological channels: a cell phone, a thermal camera, an Apple TV, a router, a computer and a projector. The footage is transmitted live to a large screen (6’x10′) in the center of the room. Without explicitely announcing it, the setup empowers the audience to reveal the artist. The same principle applies to augmented reality.
Two ultrasound scans generated on Dall-E are used as evidence of life produced by technology. The fictitious images suggest a human fetus and a sperm-like siphonophore. Ultrasonic gel is applied to the artist’s belly and to the Swiss Ball used to perform Kegel exercises during poetic recitation. The repetition and lubrication of body and objects are provocative, yet natural. From procreation to childbirth, private moments – usually concealed from the general public – are performed in a performative context and broadcasted in real time.
Main observation: witnessing a birth is still a source of discomfort for many people.
- Alternative births
Two iPads are placed in front of the projection screen. On each screen, an animation loop. The texture of the “sipho-cords” takes on the colour of the performance captured live, a premeditated mise en abîme. The choreography of this fusion between siphonophore and umbilical cord was previously embodied by the artist in a motion capture studio. A third mobile iPad augments a humanoid and a “sipho-cord” that are twinned in the gallery space.
Creating, embodying and animating 3D models opens up infinite possibilities in the physical and virtual world. It’s a reversal of roles: the “offshoots” born of the artist’s imagination nourish her, granting her posthumanist alternatives to her own existence.
- Suggest revelation
The next creative step is the use of the “temperature” parameter around these themes executed by artificial intelligence. The intention is to be able to compare the bias of the female artist and the technology in a poetry-performance context. The third and final chapter is the speculation of a “humano-algorithmic” dialogue.
I only remembered your dilated orifice
A virtual hand caressing your bare breasts
BDSM conspiracy delegation talking
A stick in the mouth
My early moans
Purge the orgiastic
Eat my middle finger
Spit it out!
Let us deliberate like cuckolds
Spit it out!
That its sinuous tight contractions
Urge the only decision ever made
Spit out the one indicated under the incisors
Chewing without connotations
Besides knowing why you bite
Astride the woman
The pierced horse
Where does the shield come from?
Fountain of enjoyment
At slow shutter speed
Massacres reveal the excavation
Lubricated polygamous cross breedings
A self-fertile jelly
Our sexes fire a machine gun
Shoot blank in the dark
And stretch into umbilical promises
An expression mediated by the antenna
Erogenous cloud points
From X to Y
I will vacuum seal it
These shameless bastards
Open them wide
Slide into the guttural
And only move those
Who delight in it
Grab my phantom limb
Of a palpable lack
Touch delays adaptation
Sole culprit of an adventure
Filled with waiting
Mariane Laporte is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in the fields of cinema, music and experimental media. Since 2016, she is a singer-songwriter in the French-speaking experimental rock group Ellemetue. Her latest researches focus on immersive art, feminist studies and digital literature. She is a Hexagram member, an international research-creation network in media arts, design and technology. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in film studies from Concordia University in 2013. She is currently completing a communication master’s degree in research-creation in experimental media at University of Quebec in Montreal.
- Sofian Audry, supervisor
- Jean-Ambroise Vesac, residency’s organizer, AR collaborator & professor in experiential and event design at UQAT
- Casey Côtes-Turpin, laboratory manager & research agent at UQAT
- Estelle Guingo, specialist in 3D animation at UQAT
- Hélène Théberge, camerawoman & teaser’s editor
- Léana Ariane Loir, broadcaster (Jardin XR)
- Sébastien Duplessis, technical advisor (Jardin XR)
- Martin Leblanc, music collaborator
- Kenny Lefebvre, technical advisor (UQAM)
- Espace O Lab
- Festival de Musique Émergente
- Agora des Arts
- Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue
- Université du Québec à Montréal
- Geneviève and Matthieu
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