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Musical Prosthetics
Designed By:Kate Reed
Commissioned by:Kate Reed
Country by:United States

Musical Prosthetics are a new form of interactive media and performance art for enhancing non-verbal communication. They are wearable sculptures that are attached to the human body in various exoskeletal formations. Wired with sensors, they create sounds triggered by body movement. We use science to understand the world, and art to understand the human experience. We have never been in a world so digitally connected, or in a world so personally disconnected in many ways. Technology makes it increasingly difficult for us to have face to face time with others. Buried in cellphones and social media, we may risk not noticing, or seeking to understand, those around us, and our communication skills and awareness may suffer. Musical Prosthetics attempts to build bridges from one person to another through the performance of feeling. Musical Prosthetics brings the human back into technology and uses that technology as a tool for understanding emotion rather than hiding it. Through sight and sound, Musical Prosthetics dramatizes a simulation of our everyday emotional lives, showing our emotions rather than telling about them. Each wearable sculpture explores a different human emotion. As performers interact with each other, their music creates a window into the often implicit non-verbal world. Three Musical Prosthetics express the primary colors of human emotion—sadness, anger, and happiness. The sadness prosthetic is made from sewn leather and slumps over the shoulders, turning inward. The anger prosthetic is made from bronze prisms protruding outward in sharp, edgy points. The happiness prosthetic has sculpted wood petals that are light, joyous, and playful. In a recent Ted talk, performance artist Marina Abramovic states that “We are afraid of suffering, we are afraid of pain, we are afraid of mortality, So what I’m doing, I’m staging these kinds of fears in front of an audience - … And then I liberate myself from these fears, and I’m your mirror, if I can do for my self than you can do for you.” Musical Prosthetics works within this tradition by using wearable sculpture to exaggerate the ways in which people communicate, proving through performance art, costume, music, and movement that emotional connection and communication is still possible in this technological age.