Corpus Nil

Marco Donnarumma


Corpus Nil is a performance exploring hybrid forms of identity and musicianship through an intense and ritualistic interaction between an artificially intelligent musical instrument, a human body, and sound.

A naked player performs a tense choreography which gradually morphs his body. Two types of wearable biosensors transmit data from his body to a software. Chip microphones capture sounds from muscles and internal organs (mechanomyogram or MMG) and electrodes capture muscle voltages (electromyogram or EMG).

The instrument re-synthesizes sounds produced within the performer’s body (between 1-40 Hz) by orchestrating a feedback network of twenty digital oscillators. Concurrently, the instrument learns the nuances of the performer’s movement (muscular tension, gesture abruptness, rate of relaxation) and chooses how to vary the musical output.

The player cannot control the instrument, but only learn how to affect it and be affected by it. The piece discards conventional performer-instrument relationships–founded on the performer’s full control of the instrument–in favor of an unstable corporeal engagement between the two.


Author, research, concept, music, choreography, light design, performance, programming: Marco Donnarumma

Additional programming and research: Baptiste Caramiaux
Stage production: Margherita Pevere
Camera for video documentation: Alessandro Altavilla
Photography: Onuk and ZKM
Audio recording mastering: Dadub Studio

Supported by:
EAVI, Goldsmiths, University of London
European Research Council – Research funding

Marco Donnarumma (IT/DE) is an artist and scholar who lives and works in Berlin. A unique presence across contemporary performance and media art, Marco Donnarumma distinguishes himself by his use of emerging technology to deliver artworks that are at once intimate and powerful, oneiric and uncompromising, sensual and confrontational. Working with biotechnology, biophysical sensing, as well as artificial intelligence and neurorobotics, Donnarumma expresses the chimerical nature of the body with a new and unsettling intensity. He is renown for his focus on sound, whose physicality and depth he exploits to create experiences of instability, awe, shock, and entrainment.