Skin:NYC v3, 2018
Designed by: Orbán Isma
Production Lead: Jessica Irvin
Rigging & Fabrication Leads: Joshua Letton & Milo Fynch
Photos: Neesmith Onzeur, ohgodwhy.me
Video: Much Obliged TV
Skin:NYC v3, “Tethered Hearts,” took place in April of 2018, at Superchief Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
This iteration of Skin:NYC brought together elements of body suspension, technology, and installation art in a gallery setting, without having to build a popup gallery from scratch for the first time. It featured interdisciplinary artwork from a multitude of artists in the body suspension community, ranging from painting and illustration, to photography and sculpture. A 4 day event, it provided space for some hands on learning among practitioners, a live art night telling a story, and a main night event featuring 3 very complex suspension installations, in addition to the main piece, “Tethered Hearts.”
Designed by Orbán Isma, Tethered Hearts is a game that is played with the human heart. For the event, three bodies were suspended around a center console, with their biorhythms feeding a digital video game. Each “player” was suspended in a raised, custom steel structure fabricated with Taylor Browning. The center console was a column comprised of stretched tendo fabric, housing a 3-way projection of the game, visible on the fabric. At the entry point to the installation was also an input for guests to introduce their heartbeat into the game as well.
The game was developed with Erland Sanborn, in Löve; a Lua based 2D game development engine. A multiplayer game, it runs on a LAN, over 4 Raspberry Pi boards – 1 client per player, and 1 running as a server in the center. The visual output consists of a geometric representation of each player, in the form of a triangle color-matched to each player individually. The 3 triangles rotate in the center representing the BPM of each player, and some biometric data is also provided in text format as well. The only way to win the game, is if all three players can match their BPMs for short periods of time. In other words, the game can only be won if the hearts involved are synchronized for a little bit.
While the RPIs house the game software, a number of external inputs and outputs are involved. Heartbeats are collected by way of heart rate monitors running through Arduino Nanos, including the 4th point where a guest to the installation can introduce their heartbeat into the game. While the game has a geometric video game as the main output at the center console, it is also streamed to a large screen outside of the installation. Each player also has a 5″ screen affixed in their line of sight. In addition to the video output, each player has a physical LED system around them that pulses their BPM. A track of LEDs leading to the center console on the floor feeds their BPMs visually into the center console. Even without watching one of the screens, a visitor can watch a player’s heartbeat as represented by light traveling across LEDs.
In addition to this visual reference, the players also have micro vibration motors pulsing the other players’ heartbeats physically into their bodies through the hooks they are suspended from. This creates a tactile connection between the players, like a vibrating video game controller, except felt directly in the body.
The working theory for this abstract game is that the players can match up their heartbeats for periods of time. By way of visual, and tactile sensations, the mind may be able to match up biorhythms of the body to external frequencies, in addition to the possibility that we are able to do this without these exterior inputs. Indeed, some of the players closed their eyes for periods of time, and checked out for a bit.
Presented by Julie Thompson and co-creator Mia Allee Jumbo, this installation brought a long overdue first to the TSP series: presenting modern work created by an Indigenous artist.
Julie is a suspension facilitator from Quebec, Canada who works with a group called “Collectif Suspension de Quebec,” founded in 2002. Having indigenous heritage, she brings ritual to the culture of modern body suspension in a new way, maintaining respect and connection in a more traditional way.
Out of all the symbols and concepts that shine through this piece, impermanence, life cycles, and the way they leave their mark on us are the guiding principles the artists involved collectively chose to put forward.
“The laws of nature, creation and destruction, connection and breakage, life and death, shape who we are. And they also shape the essence of the beauty we find in the chaos of existence.
An intended nod to Native American traditions and rituals surrounding death, as a passage to another state of being, another dimension of existence.”
The inspiration for this piece is rooted in the traditions of the involved creators’ nations; the Navajo and the Abénakis (north east of the United States and Québec province).
Rites of Time
At “Tethered Hearts,” Jessica Irvin presented, “Rites of Time,” a piece exploring the concept of time during the body suspension experience.
Jessica is a suspension facilitator located in the Bay Area of California. Jessica’s work within suspension has been focused on exposing the possibility of experiencing pain separately from trauma and utilizing the moments in between to progress through previously impassable territory in mind and body.
Her work honors the dichotomies present within all of us and the varied ways our facets need to be fed.
“Our minds can separate from time within the act of suspension. This installation piece is focused on celebrating that moment of separation and examining the spiraled, fractured experience in which time leaves us.”
Presented by Mike Coons, this installation explored the power of the body suspension experience to shift one’s perspective almost instantaneously.
Mike is a suspension facilitator based out of Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to running a suspension group, and being an active instructor in the body suspension community, he is also the creator and host of Suspension Mecca – an annual body suspension conference that has an educational focus in a laid back environment.
Mike will be presenting an installation titled, “Epiphany.”
“My inspiration for suspensions is rarely gradual and always impactful. Swift, sudden, breathtaking, like being struck with a blow. An instantaneous shift in perspective. Leaving me charged with momentum and immersed in the creation of form from a sudden idea. This suspension is a physical interpretation of this emotional feeling ~ Epiphany”
Technicals & Credits
Concept & Design: Orbán Isma
Production Lead: Jessica Irvin
Rigging & Fabrication Lead: Joshua Letton
Photography: Neesmith Onzeur, ohgodwhy.me
Rites of Time
Rites of Time
Tor Magnus Torsetnes
Josh Parkhurst | Piercing Dept.
Melanie Levy, Jessica Irvin | Event Coordination
Joshua Letton, Milo Fynch | Fabrication & Install
William Thomas Porter
Mia Allee Jumbo
Sam Haxx Froond
Superchief Gallery, NYC