Sonia Cilliari, Sensitive to Pleasure

Artist in residence January - April 2010

Performative electric-field sensing and sound environment (performance duration: ~ 2 hours)

The installation is part of the Technology Requested exhibition
 Technology requested
Work by artists who apply new technologies to initiate interaction with their audience will be central to the exhibition Technology Requested. The artworks only come to life when the visitor enters the artwork's physical space.With the exhibition Technology Requested Heiner Holtappels will be saying his farewell as general and artistic director of the Netherlands Media Art Institute. Heiner Holtappels has held that position since1998, and wraps up his work here as of the end of February, 2011. The artists in the exhibition have a special relation with the Netherlands Media Art Institute, with their work having been shown a number of times at the Institute during the past twelve years. Technology Requested shows new installations that were realized in 2010. For example, the performance-installation by Sonia Cillari was created this year as an Artist in Residence project at the NIMk. With Alfredo Ciannameo, Sonia Cillari, Kirsten Geisler, Edwin van der Heide, Marnix de Nijs and Christiaan Zwanikken read more »

Co-produced by STEIM and Netherlands Media Art Institute in Amsterdam and Claudio Buziol Foundation in Venice.
Supported by Fonds BKVB and Optofonica Laboratory for Immersive ArtScience in Amsterdam.

Sensitive to Pleasure is a work about conflict, an intimate piece in which the artist emphasizes her controversial relationship with her own work in front of the public.
Cillari stands outside the door of a dark Ambisonic cube, where she grants entry to only one visitor at a time. The cube features her work, a naked female (the 'creature'), which reveals the sound of its body when in contact with other human beings. The physical interaction between the creature and the visitor is linked to the artist's body via electrical pulses, provoking a strong physical experience in her which is painful but might also be considered pleasant. Cillari uses the visitor to gain a physical experience about her work.
The intimacy between the visitor and the creature inside will not be documented in order to guarantee intimacy and allow the visitor to fully experience the work through involvement and exposure. Cillari wants to explore ways in which visitors may interact with the creature knowing that their behavior causes a strong physical reaction on her outside the cube. At the same time, she explores the notion of voyeurism within the audience, watching her while she ‘experiences’ her own work of art.
A path of lights guides the visitor to the entrance of the cube; the lights' subtle changes reflect the encounters between the visitor and the creature, enhancing the sensuality of the work.

Sensitive to Pleasure is homage to Pygmalion (Ovid's Metamorphoses, X), the sculptor who falls in love with a statue he created. This work deals with an inverted relationship of control between the creator and his own creation. The physical connection between them represents keeping each other alive, a metaphor of mutually dependent relationship.

Sensitive to Pleasure connects with Sonia Cillari's latest research of working with and exploring the Body as Interface.

Project credits:
Hardware interface development: Stock
Environment programming: Ulrich Berthold
Ambisonic sound design and implementation: Maurizio Martinucci (aka Tez)

The process of the Artist in Residence can be followed at the blog:

This residency is a collaboration between two labs and an Art Foundation, based on a desire to investigate the ways and potential of working within a network of labs that support the exchange and sharing of resources and knowledge. The form of this collaboration aims to provide the most specific and relevant support to artists working on art and technology projects in residence. Knowing the capacities and competences of each lab/organisation, the residency exchange will offer targeted support (in the form of resources, space, technical support, local context and time) to be provided at different stages of the research and development of the project specific to each organisation. Off- and online dissemination of form and content via this partnership and the building of structural relationships are crucial to the collaboration.