Lecture: Boiling Mind
Analysing the link between audience physiology and choreography
The role of the audience in stage performances is changing from passive spectators to contributors making the performance interactive by using different techniques. In this talk, we investigate the connection of audience physiological data to the experienced performance in three performance events with a total of 98 participants. We identified memorable performance moments by assessing, Electrodermal Activity (EDA) showing that the audience’s responses match the choreographer’s intention. Through Heart Rate Variability (HRV) features related to parasympathetic activity, we identified dramatic shifts that are connected to the choreographic development of the performance. Our results show how the audience's physiological responses are linked to the choreographic development of the performance. Based on the findings, we contribute a discussion of the registered physiological phenomena and implications of the audience’s responses analysis to performance and choreography design in general. Furthermore, we walk through the dataset collected from the performance events.
Each performance lives from the interplay between audience and artists. Even if performers follow a precise script, each rendition is different partly due to audience reactions. Performers often describe it as an invisible link between then and the spectators, involving the audience in co-creating art.
The stage design and described setup came out of a collaboration between the performing artists, designers and researchers in a semi-democratic process.
Both researchers and artists contributed to developing the concept during the iterative process to balance research and artistic interests. This process was mainly led by artists, especially the choreographer. Besides the predetermined story and design, the choreographer also created some improvisational sections where dancers could interact with stage elements affected by audience physiological response.
The main contributions of this talk are as follows:
(1) We present the concept of "bringing the audience on stage" by mapping physiological signals from audience members to stage elements to amplify the connection between artists and the audience. We detail information about the design process, focusing on sensing heart rate and electrodermal activity (EDA), as well as how these signals are translated to the onstage elements through sonification and visualizations.
(2) We describe an open integrated wearable system that consists of a wrist band, back-end processing, and output. Our proposed system enables the capturing and translating of physiological signals into stage design elements.
(3) We realized our proposed concept as a proof-of-concept with the performance "Boiling Mind". The performance involved dancers, choreographers, researchers, visual and sound designers in the process. It was performed three times in front of an audience of 57, 37 and 45 people. In each performance, around 30 audience members wore the wearable wrist bands.
The hardware used for the performance piece as well as the data recorded will be open sourced and will be made avaialable to download.