Erin Gee at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina
By Alexa Heenan
Stepping into Erin Gee’s exhibition To the Sooe at the MacKenzie Art Gallery is a strange and unnerving experience. The Montreal-based media artist explores the relationship between technology and the human body in six works that range from prints to sound performance. By employing robotics, choral compositions, artificial intelligence, and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) techniques, she seeks to create stimulating environments that reveal the materiality of our emotional states.
What do our emotions, our reactions, and the biorhythms of our body sound like when transcribed, enhanced, and projected through machines? Gee navigates this question through various computational algorithms. Her video and robotics installation Swarming Emotional Pianos and sound piece Pinch and Soothe capture the rhythmic nature of bio and physiological data gathered through sensor technology. Pinch and Soothe is a social experience that requires two users to interconnect through an intricately wired headset that allows them to listen to the musical sounds of each other’s bodies. The video Machine Unlearning and sound piece To the Sooe incorporate Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights as it is processed through AI learning algorithms to produce textual patterns and rhythms of fluttery consonants. Gee delivers the output in ASMR style through role play and a sound performance that leave you both mesmerized and tingling to your core.
The sterile white walls and scientific jargon of the exhibition texts should not deter you from this immersive and sensory experience. Gee’s complex communication configurations require your time, patience and an open mind. If you are a fan of ASMR you will leave pleased. Alternatively, you may find yourself slightly disturbed by the repetitive sounds of fingers scratching, tongues clicking, and voices whispering – but that’s just part of the process.
Alexa Heenan is a writer, critic, and emerging curator who holds a Master of Fine Arts in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Victoria. Her areas of interest range from the history of collecting and the art market to contemporary Indigenous art and photography. You can find her writing, research, and photography on her website: http://alexaheenan.com/