Biomedia, a new medium that restores human connection

Biomedia, a new medium that restores human connection

In our last post, we claimed we were driving the creation of a new medium of expression: biomedia.  This week, we thought we’d share where it came from and how it connects to our larger vision.

Eugene Thacker coined the term biomedia to show how biology is becoming the new media. Thacker says that the body is the medium and its biology is the message. He uses this idea to examines how bioinformatics uses DNA to perform computations. Echoing the cybernetic easy slippage, he sees a confluence between genetic and computer codes, between informatics and biology. Thacker views the scope of biomedia as a way to restore the materiality of our bodies. He suggests that we do not use computer technology in the service of biology, but rather that we understand the expression of our body more fully by using computers look at, and use, the body biology.

At XTH, we are extending Thacker’s notion of biomedia. With our approach to body technology, we are creating technologies that create real-time, dynamic interaction with computers using the physiological processes of our own bodies. We are creating a direct connection between biology and media.

In contrast to the current direction of the wearable market, which views the body as purely data to track, measure, and analyze, our XTH Sense™ is a “bio-expressive technology”. It reveals the human body as more than data.

The XTH Sense amplifies inaudible sounds that characterize each of our own bodies. It re-establishes our intimate connection with ourselves, and with one another. It lets us share human experience through our bodies.

By redefining Thacker’s idea of biomedia, we want to state that the XTH Sense™ creates a connection between body and technology that is much more than the cliche of the cyborg, or that of technology as being just a functional tool.

The technology of biomedia, like the XTH Sense™, is also not strictly instrumental; the body is both a means of communication and an object of communication. Biology, simply put, is a technology infused with source code. There is no “body-anxiety.” For us, the body-technology relationship is mutual, “the biological informs the digital, the digital corporealizes the biological.”

The raw sound and data from the XTH Sense™ becomes meaningful through the technology and alive through one’s own gesture. By transporting the biophysical data from the body to the computer over Open Sound Control (OSC), or mapping the data into Pd, Max/MSP (for sound) or Processing (for imagery), for instance, the XTH Sense physicalizes abstract data, rendering inner human expression
visible, audible and tangible.

Through the XTH Sense™, one can add the full range of free bodily expression into biomedia; this enables it to inscribe social and cultural meaning into data extracted from the prosthetic amplification of body-technology. It also injects pure pleasure and joy into our relationship with technology as we become re-attuned with our unique bodily expression.

We are creating technologies that encourage everybody to work with “biomedia” to express their inner experience. By developing open-source bio-creative technology and creating a platform for creatives and developers to share knowledge, we hope to encourage others to join us in shaping this nascent medium of expression.

Together, let’s puncture the VR hype by bringing the body and physical human connection back into vogue!

Image created by epsos.de on Flikr, CC Licensed. Original sculpture by Prof. Efraïm Rodriguez Cobos

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