Dr. Hannah Drayson [BA (Hons), MSc, PhD]
Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Digital Media and Animation.
Lecturer in MRes and Ba/BSc (Hons) Digital Art and Technology.
Contributing researcher Trans-technology Research
Associate Editor Leonardo Reviews
My work explores the theoretical territory around the use of instrumental sensors for human body measurement. Drawing upon practice-based research using bio-signal sensing as well as literature from a range of disciplines, medicine, anthropology, history, philosophy of science and technology it offers a broadly interdisciplinary, philosophical and historically situated account of human body sensing. A major aim of my work is has been to engage with the question of how the practice of human body sensing might be recalibrated, re-imagined and validated as a practice that is not inherently and specifically understood as one of objectively revealing, but alternatively as a productive, active and poetic.
Certain observations allow us to explore scientific sensing apparatus – the first is that (i) by rejecting the western philosophical tradition which contrasts instrumental ‘objectivity’ and bodily ‘subjectivity’, philosophical and anthropological discourses of the body offer alternative ontologies within which the relationship between instruments and bodies might be understood.
Similarly, (ii) approaches in the philosophy of technology and medical anthropology offer an understanding of instrumentation as ‘productive’ of the physical world, rather than ‘revealing’. Drawing on this work allows the thesis to position itself in a particular way regarding the interaction between bodies and instruments which goes beyond a model of a pre-existing and natural body being made visible or revealed by instrumentation, and instead offers an account in which the body is produced or enacted by instrumentation and practices incorporating instrumentation of instrumental measurement.
Since 2007 I have been working with sensor-based sound and visual performance and have collaborated with a number of performers and composers using these technologies – loosely speaking my interest has been in using different types of data input as forms of control that can be manipulated intentionally by visual performers, but are also highly generative. This involves a combination of creative visual skill and image making – see my work as a textural animation practice – perhaps more akin to music improvisation than film-making. To support this production I develop technical infrastructures am currently developing software performance platforms that allow me to respond live to changing musical performances.
My research into methods for providing visual support and projections for musicians and musical performance using video mixing software has led me to develop distinctive methods for creating multilayered animations that can be manipulated in real-time and respond to performers and sound input. Since 2007 I have also been working with visual synthesis in programming environments such as Pure Data’s GEM and more recently with Processing and have incorporated a range of data inputs into my work- such as sound and bio-signal data and the results of this research has been disseminated at major international conferences NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression) and ICMC (International Computer Music Conference).
My work with these technologies has continued to be used, my program Circles, a visualisation patch written in PureData designed to give feedback based on bio-signal inputs the result of collaborative workshops is now being used by researchers Koray Tahiroglu and Cumhur Erkut the Media Lab at Aalto University in Helsinki in their further research into music improvisation systems. My research into live visual synthesis, sound visualisation and methods for live improvised performance continues through a range of collaborations with sound artists, bands, and designers, informed by my theoretical research into the philosophy and history of sensor based HCI as well as my experience as a live visual performer and club VJ.
Temper is a speculative collaborative project I am undertaking with another artist, Ellie Doney which explores themes of bodily poetics and responsive materials.
Doney is a sculptor whose work with a range of materials explores the nature of materiality and transformation. She is currently a writer/researcher and soon to be Maker in Residence at The Institute of Making, UCL. She is based in London at Manifold and is undertaking a residency with Plymouth College of Arts.
One of my recent collaborations, the Shokku A/V project with sound designer Ben Hudson, has resulted in a number of invitations to perform at experimental music and A/V nights, notably at the British Film Institute Southbank and on their Cinema Stage at the Big Chill Festival in 2010.
2008 – Drayson, H., (2008), Constructed Bodies; can biomedical instruments become tools of self‐perception?
in Ascott, R., Bast, G. & Fiel, W., (eds) New realities: being syncretic. Wien: Springer.
2008 – Conference Paper, Tahiroglŭ, K., Drayson, H., and Erkut, C., (2008) “An Interactive Bio-Music Improvisation System”. Presented at ICMC 2008 (International Computer Music Conference) Belfast, Ireland.
2008 – “The Control Group” Greg Corcoran, Hannah Drayson, Miguel Ortiz Perez.
Club NIME 2008 (New Instruments for Musical Expression), Genova, Italy.
2010 – Shokku A/V. Live improvised performance using processing in collaboration with sound designer Ben Hudson. British Film Institute London (August 2010).
2010 – Shokku A/V. Live improvised performance using processing in collaboration with sound designer Ben Hudson. BFI Stage at Big Chill Festival (2010).
Room B318 Portland Square,
University of Plymouth,
Gestalt Biometrics and their Applications; Instrumentation, Objectivity and Poetics
Funded by the European Science Research Council (EPSRC).
Gestalt Biometrics is a cross-disciplinary project which combines a philosophical analysis with a computer science and engineering design approach, informed by perspectives from both arts and humanities and computer science. The research focus is upon biofeedback technologies, a group of sensors and methodologies which include a range of physiological instruments.
The intention of the project is to elucidate a critical and practice based response to the paradigms which surround contemporary sensing technologies as they are applied to the body. Rather than approach these instruments at face value, as objective devices, the project surveys disciplines such as philosophy, science and technology studies, health psychology, parapsychophysiology and medical anthropology to look for alternative models of the human body that might be compatible with these technologies.