Gothenburg Angered Hospital 07 December 2018 - 07 March 2019 and 29 April 2016. Exhibited Diagnosis Machine and interactive sound artwork for the hospital.
I was in the Mölndal Hospital in Gothenburg when something happened. It drew my attention because it had colours and curves, a machine that shows how a human feels. Interesting how a machine can integrate with us and help us to know what we don’t know!
People’s experiences of hospitals are seldom enjoyable or inspirational. My personal experiences have been particularly challenging ever since I was a child. These memories evoke unpleasant and disturbing associations when I find myself in a hospital environment. When my son was born in 2008, a change came about. During the delivery, my curiosity was aroused when I happened to look at one of the patient monitors, which analysed the patient’s physical status in real-time. When I focused my attention on the monitor, I was struck by the various parameters in the form of different-coloured graphic curves. I asked myself what it would sound like to transform the monitor into a sound machine that could mentally diagnose the body’s internal responses. That was how the name the Diagnosis Machine came about–on the day my son came into the world!
Everything from medical technology and architecture to lighting, colour schemes, and sound in a hospital environment can improve the care quality. It involves viewing from a new perspective how the hospital can address the needs of its patients in a creative atmosphere–through sound and music–and by doing so, has a positive impact on the patient’s health. Imagine how it would sound if a hospital had a laboratory where patients were examined and their medication was administered using sounds and music. Research confirmed how sound and music affect the human body and mind. However, the project is not about music to promote better health. It is about experiencing music differently and innovatively in a new setting and stage. This could open up new associations and stories about hospitals, which is central to this project.
What we see and hear affects our bodies, both physically and mentally. A diagnosis machine can capture our reactions to these external stimuli and translate them into graphical parameters, creating an abstract image of what we feel. Diagnosis machines show the body’s condition through sensors (ECG), which are interesting to me from an artistic perspective, as they can connect music to graphic parameters. The work "Diagnosis Machine" emphasises the ability to reflect the body's reactions interactively.
Initially, I had intended to compose a piece of music based on material from the diagnostic machine monitor. However, my focus changed, and instead, I endeavoured to use the monitor’s graphic curves as a real-time score, interpreting the curves musically through improvisation (in the sense of not knowing), chance, and exploring new experiences. Through this alternative way of thinking, I became interested in experimenting with the monitor as an interactive musical instrument. A piece of music could now be produced using a slightly unconventional medium, offering the opportunity for the audience to reflect on the musicality of their own bodies. In order to make the experiment more innovative, I have designed a compositional structure for programming on MaxMSP, implied by Carlo Cattano. The compositional structure can translate the graphic images via sampled and computer-generated sounds to a new musical experience. However, the structure is to organize raw data/numbers from the monitor’s output signals into five groups of numbers which is a method for my interactive composition tool.
The graphic design of the monitor, with its array of colours and curves, forms the basis for revealing how the human body could sound; using the sensors, the body is the Other Composition.
Thanks to Gothenburg Hospital 'ÖstraSjukhuset' for the ECG monitor and our funded sponsor, the Departement of Public Art in VGR.