Tomás Laurenzo is an artist and academic who works with both physical and digital media exploring the artistic construction of meaning and its relation with power and politics. With a background in both computer science and art, Laurenzo’s work spans across different practices and interests, including Human-Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality.
His artistic production is also diverse and includes installations, interactive art, music, live cinema, and digital lutherie. His artworks and performances have been shown in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Since 2014, he is Assistant Professor at the School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong.
Before relocating to Hong Kong, he worked as associate professor (now on leave) at University of the Republic (Uruguay), where he founded and directed the medialab of the Engineering School. He also worked as Associate Researcher at the Center for Basic Research of the School of Psychology, Visiting Professor at the School of Architecture and Design, as well as being fellow of both the National Agency of Research (ANII) and the PEDECIBA program, the main funding institutions in Uruguay.
Laurenzo has also performed artistic and academic activities in several institutions including Microsoft Research, Carnegie Mellon University, Brunel University, and INRIA, among others. He has several publications, mainly in the areas of New Media Art, and HCI. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science (advised by Dr. Alvaro Cassinelli, University of Tokyo).
In the period between June 2014 and June 2015, at least 5,500 immigrants died trying to reach Europe from Africa while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
In this occasion we present 5500, a piano performance that is a part of an on-going project that investigates the incorporation of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) into musical performances, with a particular interest in the political significance arised from the negotiation of control that arises.
5500 consists of a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique, where the pianist’s execution is disrupted using computer–controlled electrodes which stimulate the muscles in his arms causing their involuntary contractions and affecting the final musical result. The performance involves a standard (“unprepared”) piano, a computer, a projector, and the EMS device.
The EMS device consists of a laser–cut black acrylic box, from which the electrodes are connected. Inside the box, there is a medically compliant signal generator. The signal generator generates an asymmetrical bi-phase square pulse, with an amplitude of 0-80 mA, a pulse width of 30 to 260 μs, and a pulse rate of 2 to 150 Hz. It outputs a maximum of 30V/100mA over a 500Ω load.