Isea 2022 - Possibles



June 11th 20:00h

Performance / “Marzelline’s Confessions” by Jocelyn Ho, performed by Margaret Schedel on Embedded Iron

Authors: Jocelyn Ho, Margaret Schedel, Robert Cosgrove, Omkar Bhatt, Matthew Blessing


A feminist-activist project, Women’s Labor repurposes domestic tools to become new musical instruments. Using spectroscopy, LIDAR, Ultrasonic technology, and machine learning, the first instrument Embedded Iron ‘sees’ the color of any fabric to play different timbres. Traditionally relegated to the private sphere, we interrogate domesticity through interactive installation and performance.


Theme: Feminist, NIME, musical instrument, machine learning, spectroscopy

  • Abstract: Winner of the 2021 International Alliance of Women in Music Ruth Anderson Prize, Women’s Labor is a feminist-activist project that repurposes domestic tools to become new musical instruments. Using embedded technologies, these household-devices-turned instruments are explored in interactive installations, commissioned compositions, and performances. Traditionally relegated to the private sphere, we interrogate domesticity through public engagement and performative spectacle.

    The new instruments are based on laundering tools that highlight gender performativity through clothing. Thefirst instrument featured in installation/performance is Embedded Iron, based on an early-20th century wooden ironing board and antique iron. Both the public and musicians can “iron” fabrics, including their own pieces of clothing, to make music. Using spectroscopy, the Embedded Iron has a color-sensing ability—‘seeing’ the color of the fabric to play different timbres. Using machine learning Wekinator, the Iron can interpolate unique sounds for any given fabric. The iron’s placement on the XY-axis of the ironing board determines pitch using LIDAR and ultrasonic technology.
    The Iron plays sounds of resistance, combining two sound modules in Pure Data: physical modeling of a violin—an instrument on which women were discouraged to be played in the nineteenth-century—and electric guitar-pedal like audio FX. Both of these modules evoke sounds that are historically associated with male musicians—put on an iron to subvert these very associations.

    Two texts chosen from an oppressive 19th-century marriage manual are mapped to a special “white apron” for ironing on the left and right side of the board, using granular synthesis. While the text may seem ludicrously outdated, the intentions behind the text are, ironically, still eeriely prevalent today.

  • Biography: Jocelyn Ho, creative director of Women’s Labor, directs, composes, and performs in inter-disciplinary performance projects involving collaborators from vastly different fields. She is a Steinway artist and an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at UCLA. 

    Margaret Schedel has a diverse creative output with works spanning interactive multimedia operas, virtual-reality experiences, sound art, video games, and composition. She is a Professor of Music and Chair of Art at Stony Brook University.

    Robert Cosgrove is a percussionist, composer, and technologist, currently Artist-In-Residence at Practice Gallery and Technical Director for Yarn/Wire and Ensemble Decipher. He has a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University.

    Omkar Bhatt is a computer scientist focusing on machine learning, data science, visualization and HCI. Bhatt holds a Master degree in Computer Science at Stony Brook University.

    Matthew Blessing is music technologist and composer with a PhD in Experimental Music and Digital Media from Louisiana State University.


  • MACBA - Convent dels Àngels

Plaça dels Àngels, 5, Barcelona

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