This week I am preparing for upcoming performances, travel, and packing for a move into a new studio. I am also moving to a new apartment next month. This is a period of great transition for me. I am very excited and being very kind to myself during this moment of lots of shifts. I am giving a lot of attention to my emotions. I am very aware of self talk and how my thoughts relate to my feelings and impact my behaviors.
As an artist, my practice is built on my movements. My body is my greatest instrument and I tend to it daily to make sure that I maintain my wholeness. I use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) techniques, mindfulness tools, spiritual aids, and sculptural art objects from my studio practice regularly as part of my practice as a Chamána (Shaman).
I pause often to check in with myself. I journal and document how I feel. I pay attention to how dance movements elevates or celebrates my mood. I find it fascinating to look back at how my happiness can be measured through these techniques. I look forward to having new data collection tools to integrate into this process. I can only imagine how much this data will provide me with greater insight into how art affects my state of being.
My work with the community as an educator, facilitator, producer, performer, and artist will have new modes of measuring qualitative and quantitative data. I am passionate about all aspects of wellbeing, therefore having more tools will be amazing. I am so excited about others having real time data to help guide them as they choose what to focus on as they navigate.
I have noticed over the years how much my life has changed, how fulfilled I feel, how much my energy and eagerness for life has increased since adjusting my behaviors based upon my feelings through mindfully thinking about what I am doing as an artist. Art is my language. Art is how I love to communicate. Science helps me decode, track, explore, and expand my creative practice.
This week was a technical deep-dive working on EmotiBit for the SciArt Bridge Residency and the launch of our EmotiBit Beta Partnerships. My labs’ goal in creating EmotiBit is to democratize emotion sensing or “affective computing” (term coined by Rosalind Picard at MIT) so that more people can have access to research-grade physiological sensing in a wearable form-factor. I think giving greater access to this data will create multipliers for people to ask new types of questions from different scientific, artistic, educational and DIY perspectives. To meet that goal, my lab has been hard at work to measure and stream 16 high-quality signals from the body.
This week we’ve been optimizing our electro-dermal activity (EDA) circuitry to accurately measure small fluctuations in skin resistance on top of the wide range of skin resistance that naturally occurs. On a hot day during physical activity skin resistance can be as low as 10 kiloohms or less, while on a chilly day when most sweat glands effectively go on vacation, skin resistance can easily skyrocket to 20 megaohms or more. Across this huge range, our goal is to detect small 10 kiloohm electro-dermal responses (EDRs) that accompany emotional reactions. Getting our circuitry carefully tuned to capture that full range has had us working hard with spice modeling software combined with good old fashioned soldering and bench experimentation.
We’ve also been working on next-generation temperature sensing for the EmotiBit. In addition to health-related changes in body temperature when you get sick or during ovulation, research has shown that micro-fluctuations in local body temperature can reflect emotional reactions. For EmotiBit Beta we’re adding medical-grade infrared thermopile sensing to get the most accurate local body temperature possible.
In addition to working on our specific sensors, we’ve also been working more broadly on the EmotiBit circuitry. By adding power conditioning to the 3.3 Volt supply delivered by Adafruit Feather, we’re aiming to reduce powerline noise and optimize the signal-to-noise-ratio for all our sensors. We’ve also been carefully selecting which connector pins on the Feather to use. Bringing EmotiBit into the amazing Adafruit Feather ecosystem is a huge multiplier to let people do anything they want with signals from the body, including using any number of wireless streaming protocols (WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, 4G, etc), and also the ability to attach any number of Feather Wings ranging from LED strip controllers to audio generators and motor drivers. Of course, streaming 16+ signals from the body and maintaining compatibility across a multitude of small form-factor boards with limited available pins requires careful planning to be sure we maximize the possibilities for everyone to explore their visions for affective computing.
As we remain heads-down, likely for another week or so, getting ready to send Beta boards out for manufacturing, we’re super excited thinking about how our hard work carefully developing the EmotiBit circuitry might lead to new avenues of exploration and possibly new ways of thinking about sensing signals from the body in this SciArt residency and beyond.