limbic from Institut Fuer Musik Und Medien on Vimeo.

Music isn’t just syntax; it isn’t just a binary message in our brain. It somehow connects with our body in an intimate way. The music video “limbic” explores this visceral connection right at the level of the skin, at sweat and goosebumps and facial reaction.

“limbic” is both an aesthetic exploration and a statement about some of the science behind the experience. It comes at a good time, too – earlier this month, we were considering the relationship of body to musical interface, in the context of a bio-interfacing show at Berlin’s LEAP Gallery. Artist Marco Donnarumma also released his own open source toolset for working with muscles as input. And, for my part, I have to say that participating in that workshop really made me more aware of my physical being in performance. Related to this film, all of us were working with inputs at the level of the skin – Claudia Robles Angel with electrical impulses from the brain at the surface of the scalp, Marco with a microphone against the skin for “listening” to muscles, and me with galvanic skin response dealing with the conductivity of the skin. (See a recent blog by María Muñoz; more on this topic to come.)

Part of why it was compelling to use these interfaces in performance, though, was that these systems are all bi-directional. Your body may be an input, but it responds to the music, too. So, as musicians, it’s all the more intriguing to consider the film “limbic” as a view into how the body reacts to musical input. As the description puts it:

“limbic” as a Visual Music clip reflects the emotional processing of music in the limbic system and the resulting reactions of the body (the so-called “chills”). It has been proved that musical attributes like the violation of expectations, the beginning of something new, a new cue or a recurring pattern are more often leading to chills. Those can be expressed, among other things, trough a higher heart rate, twitching facial muscles, sweaty hands or even the
well-known goose bumps. The film discusses how far chill-experiences are part of the evolutionary and/or the cultural development.

limbic was produced as a Video 2 exam for Prof. Dr. Heike Sperling and Andreas Kolinski.

Music: Johannes M. Arend
Manfred Borsch, Johannes M. Arend

Johannes, also a CDM reader, sends us his work from Dusseldorf. Thanks!

As seen in Big Up Magazine