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Sound Politics

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Free and open to the public
Michaela Davies, Duty, 2014. Photograph credit: Boris-Bagattini. Image courtesy of the artist.
Michaela Davies, Duty, 2014. Photograph credit: Boris-Bagattini. Image courtesy of the artist.

Sound Politics

Michaela Davies

Lanfranco Aceti, Director of the Arts Administration program at Boston University, proudly presents Sound Politics at the Boston Athenæum as part of ArtWeek Boston. Sound Politics is a curated project that includes two performances, Duty and Untitled for Cyborg String Quartet, by Australian artist Michaela Davies.

These pieces explore the application of electric muscle stimulation (EMS) to musical composition and performance. MIDI compositions created by the artist are used to trigger custom-built EMS devices that send electrical impulses to performers’ muscles. These impulses generate specific involuntary movements, causing the performers to “play” their instruments.

The performances explore the complexities of contemporary living in an “electrified” and “engineered” age where the will of the people appears to be determined by involuntary reactions to electronically mediated stimuli. The performances will arrive in Boston following a staging under the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“In an ever-more engineered world,” explains curator Lanfranco Aceti, “questions abound regarding the role of the individual in the structure of contemporary society. Michaela Davies’ performances focus on the struggle of the body, the poetics of resistance, and the social politics of power and powerlessness.”

Artist Michaela Davies will discuss her work following the performances.

Lanfranco Aceti works as an academic, artist and curator. He is the Director of the Arts Administration Program at Boston University. He is the Founder and Director of The Studium: Lanfranco Aceti Inc., of OCR (Operational and Curatorial Research in Contemporary Art, Design, Science and Technology) and MoCC (Museum of Contemporary Cuts).

Michaela Davies is an Australian artist and musician with a doctorate in psychology, and fuses these multiple disciplines in her work. Her work investigates sonic possibilities, human limits, and the nature of free will, using electric muscle stimulation and other methods to both obstruct and extend human capabilities. Over the last decade Michaela has amassed a catalogue of work around these themes, shown at galleries and festivals across the globe including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Experimental Intermedia New York, Currents International New Media Festival, ISEA, Mona Foma Festival Hobart, and Sonica Festival UK where she was 2013 Artist in Residence.

In 2014, Michaela received a Creative Australia Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, and in 2015 her work Duty was awarded an Honorary Mention in Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) for Digital Musics & Sound Art. Michaela’s creative practice is informed by an interest in the role of psychological and physical agency in creative processes, and the liminal space between didactic execution and free interpretation inherent both in musical performance and beyond.

This event is sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Cuts and the Australian Council for the Arts. The post-performance talk is supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities. This performance and post-performance talk is part of THE SOCIAL, the International Biennial Conference of Visual Culture. The conference and its programs of events are free for speakers and attendees. If you wish to join the conference please register here.

Assistive Listening Devices image

To request real-time captions for this event, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 no fewer than four business days prior to the event.