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PERFORMANCE: March 15, 1996, Zap Club, Brighton. Presented as part of Transmutations: Art of '96, International Festival of Live Art.
This performance was commissioned on the theme of transmutation and alchemy. It involved collaboration with a Brighton based tattooist and employed galvanic skin response units connected to energised clothing for members of the audience to wear. Bruce Gilchrist's left thumb print was scanned and then transferred onto his right shoulder by the tattooist as an image for inscription. One electrode from a galvanic skin response unit was attached to the tattooist, exposed flesh on his thumb contacting with the metal tattoo machine, a second electrode was connected to skin on Gilchrist's arm. The needle, when inscribing the image, closed an electrical circuit producing measurements of galvanic skin response which were translated into amplified sound within the space. The sound was modulated through a combination of changing skin potential and needle pressure. The sound signal was converted into voltage to drive a series of vibrating electrical motors embedded within rubber clothing - jacket and shoes - which members of the audience were invited to wear during the three hour performance. The physically painful experience of being tattooed was transmuted into a pleasurable sensation for the third party; the physical process of creating a lasting visual image on the surface of the body was translated into sound and tactile sensation within the spectator's clothing.
"The vital thing is not the transmutation of metals, but that of the experimenter himself."