Amplified Fencer Movement I

Amplified Fencer Movement I is a lecture/performance by Volksamt! (featuring Gokay Atabek and Paul F.)

Amplified Fencer is a research project by Gökay Atabek that investigates observational practices and implicit composition with the help of experimental interfaces. It is presented as a series of performance pieces.

There is undeniably an inherent choreography in any sport, emerging out of the battle between the opponents. The title Amplified Fencer refers to the way the work makes this choreography visible and audible. In the piece, a fencer’s movements are dissected via motion and orientation sensors, reformatted with the help of a neural network and remapped to an experimental audio synthesizer. This allows the fencer’s set of moves to be translated into soundscapes and syncopated rhythm snippets. The fencer constructs a composition by performing a realistic, logical set of moves; the fencer (now a musician) is forced to play the instrument implicitly, not intentionally. This process is prone to the same failures that would lose the fencer points in a match; the neural network is only trained to recognize absolutely perfect positions. Anything short of that will result in garbled output.

Fencing is a sport that requires a high degree of precision and good proprioception. A fencer’s focus and stress response can usually be perceived in the nuances of their moves, though these are difficult for the untrained eye to interpret. To make this world visible, the fencer is wired with an EEG device that actively monitors brain activity. This data is parsed, mapped to a video synthesis engine and projected onto the playing area.

With this computer-enabled amplification, the human-versus-human dialogue of a fencing match seemingly shifts to human-versus-machine. But there is no human-versus-machine dialogue: at best, it is a human-versus-designer/engineer dialogue. Does this axiom still hold true with the involvement of AI in this relationship?

For the Test_Lab Summer Sessions 2022 at V2_ Volksamt! (featuring Gökay Atabek and Paul F.) presented Amplified Fencer Movement I. This lecture performance introduced the audience to the setup of Amplified Fencer and the rules of fencing, followed by a computer-aided fencing training routine/concert.

This piece was created with the support of V2_ Lab for Unstable Media as a part of the Summer Sessions Programme

Presented at V2_ Lab for Unstable Media (NL) and KunstenLab (NL)