Pulse Project: A Sonic Investigation across Bodies, Cultures and Technologies


Session Title:

  • Creative Work and Well-Being

Presentation Title:

  • Pulse Project: A Sonic Investigation across Bodies, Cultures and Technologies




  • This artist talk introduces Pulse Project (2011-2015), a practice-led performance research study that explores the cultural interfaces between art, science, the humanities and technology. The talk responds to ISEA’s main theme of “Cultural R>evolution” as this project engages with the “dual meaning of revolution: to always create new while returning to the old.” [1] This project also engages with the “New Media – Cultural Heritage” theme by exploring new media as a means for mapping the (human and non-human) body according to Chinese medical philosophy.

    About Pulse Project
    In Pulse Project, I embody transdisciplinary creative research itself through performing as an instrument or medium between others and myself, and between cultural traditions for understanding and mediating the body. Drawing upon my expertise as a clinical acupuncturist (with training in biomedicine), I combine traditional Chinese medicine and music theories together with audio programming to compose bespoke digital soundscapes expressive of embodied experience. These soundscapes are not sonifications of Western principles of circulation or embodiment but offer another perspective to conceive of/listen to the interior spaces of the body-in-being.

    For example, each soundscape is composed by using Chinese pulse diagnosis as a method to interpret participant’s pulses as a unique set of sound wave images (a complex set of more than twenty-eight waveform images corresponding to mental/physical states of being) and also in accordance with traditional Chinese music theory. As Pulse Project soundscapes are composed using an aspect of touch informed by Chinese medical theory, this study therefore offers an alternate and comparative means for exploring and recording the alchemical nature of embodied being-in-time.

    For this reason, the audio works and graphic notations of this study do not represent of the inside of the body from within the Cartesian logic of the “cogito”, but interleaves Chinese medical and philosophical approaches together with Western medicine and philosophy as a means for reconsidering the current discourses that attend the body and embodiment. In resisting the representation of sound in “realistic” (Western) technoscientific terms, this study sonically explores the phenomenal metaphysics of the interior and in-between spaces and processes of the body (according to Chinese medical philosophy) as a means for communicating the more enigmatic aspects of embodied reality than those currently explored by technoscience or those acoustic ecologies which deny the co-presence of the infrasonic ecology of the interior of the body with exterior sonic ecologies and intercultural emergences.

    In conclusion, this research travels laterally between cultures and practices and calls for a radical change in conceiving of the body in either “Oriental” and “Occidental” terms in order to travel beyond the tired bifurcations between mind and body, self and others, and Western and Othered cultures. In combining art, science and diverse medicines together with contemporary digital culture, this project opens transverse lines of inquiry that build new channels between the arts, humanities and sciences whilst at the same time generating a new form of intercultural engagement through performance and sound works.