The Affect Formations project with the Music Department of Durham University explores the relationship between our emotional response to drawings and musical features through several public performances in the North East. Artist Adinda van ’t Klooster is inviting people to complete an online survey and in doing so contribute to an innovative artwork merging music, science and visual art.

International artist Adinda van ‘t Klooster is artist in residence at the Durham University Music Department until April 2015. She is collaborating on two artistic research projects, culminating in two live performances.

Within the first project, the artist creates novel electronic soundscapes designed to evoke emotion, and explore the relationship between sound and emotional affect. Professor Tuomas Eerola, leader in the field of emotion and music, will evaluate the emotional response to these soundscapes.  In most previous investigations of music and emotion, Western classical music has dominated, so the use of electronic music is a novelty.

The second project involves the creation of two live audiovisual interfaces with Dr. Nick Collins, Reader in Composition. For the ‘In a State’ performance, a computer captures live audio from an improvising pianist and analyses the emotions expressed in the music.  As the emotions change, so do projected abstract animated graphics, based on drawings by the artist. The pianist is accompanied by a computer agent generating its own music in response and the computer’s music is also visualized with further animated graphics. A second piece uses sensors that record physiological responses like heart rate, brainwaves and perspiration. The artist says: “I will then use this data to estimate what the musicians feel: whether they are tense or calm, happy or sad. Then I visualise these emotions through animated drawings. The aim of this work is to provide innovative ways for the computer and human musicians to improvise together in new emotive ways.”

Still from the 'In A State' performance (c) Adinda van 't Klooster, 2014

Still from the ‘In A State’ performance (c) Adinda van ‘t Klooster, 2014

A research survey that looks at how people rate the emotional expression in abstract graphics, created by the artist, is being used to help determine the choice of visual elements in the performances. Please participate in this online survey here.

Two innovative concerts will take place in the North East, one at Durham University on the 27th of February and a second at the Sage Gateshead on the 19th March 2015. More information on the project can be found here.

This residency is made possible by a Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence grant and a small grant for the arts from the Arts Council England. You can Follow the project for updates and the regular blog on Twitter @AffectFormation and on Facebook at Affect Formations.

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Centre for Medical Humanities
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