Adrian Mackenzie writes that “transduction is a process whereby a disparity or a difference is topologically and temporally restructured across some interface. It mediates different organizations of energy” (2006, pg. 26). For Gilbert Simondon, transduction is implied in the process of ontogenesis (Barthélémy, 2012). Readers of Simondon often point to crystals and crystallization as the transduction object lesson par excellence. In this ArtLounge, we offer up and interrogate the transductive processes already underway in movement and creative coding practices that engage the moving, thinking, feeling body with custom responsive media systems.
In media art and creative coding, a common technique uses input from a sensor of one modality (e.g. sound) to drive an output of another modality (e.g. video, light, haptics) using digital logic/signal processing. In some circles, this process is referred to as transduction. But, interactive performance, installation, or even quotidian computing situations where the human is in the loop introduce more complex and dynamic registers of organization that are subjected to tranductive operations (metabolism, affect, gestures, and meaning). This sets off a question: How can the heterogeneous (bio-physical-semiotic) flows and exchange of energy in interactive media systems created by movement and computing practitioners offer embodied human and non-human insights into both the limits and desires of computation?
The problem of transduction, manifested as tensions between computed and experienced movement, has animated much discourse in the Movement and Computing community. Aside from the corporeal and metabolic expenditure of energy by moving people in interactive dance settings, energy also figures in gesture, which oscillates between the register of aesthetics and semiotics. In the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) system (developed by choreographer Rudolf Laban and others), “effort” is one of four categories of movement. Effort is conjugated by relationships to polarity and factors space, weight, time, and flow. How is energy re-organized in a notated choreographic score, or in a motion capture archive, or a score computationally generated from a motion capture archive? Or when Laban’s descriptors are mathematically described, implemented as a signal processing descriptor, and used to interpret sensor data generated by a dancer (Larboulette & Gibet, 2015)? What registers of energy are we talking about here, what is preserved and lost across these phases of individuation?
Barthélémy, J.-H. (2012). Glossary: Fifty Key Terms in the Works of Gilbert Simondon. In Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology.
Bataille, G. (1991). The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy.
Combes, M., & LaMarre, T. (2013). Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual.
Larboulette, C., & Gibet, S. (2015). A Review of Computable Expressive Descriptors of Human Motion.
MacKenzie, A. (2006). Transductions: Bodies and Machines at Speed.
Salter, C., & Sellars, P. (2010). Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance.
Simondon, G., & Adkins, T. (2020). Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information.
Sha, X. (2014). Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter.