In Landscapes of Pain, a parametric sculpture, machine learning was coupled with biometrical data of the body’s electrodermal activity (EDA) to express the ambiguity in the correlation between fear, excitement, and arousal. Fear and excitement were specifically chosen because of their similar physiological features while having a profoundly different impact on the psychic environment of a sentient being. Data was recorded while a small needle touched the body with different intensities, repetitions, and on different parts, and then fed into a parametric algorithm to create a virtual surface of fear, excitement, and the ambiguity they carry. The physiological and psychical tension produced by the touch of a needle was recorded as an EDA signal and manifested in a time-series vector, marked by its intensities, peaks, and valleys.
During the touch of the needle, the artist did not know anymore whether the changes in data resulted from the fear of pain experienced while being touched, the excitement in anticipation of the next touch of the skin, the pleasure of being touched or the mixture of all this. While a vector (one-dimensional tensor) is sufficient for recording the EDA signal, it fails to differentiate intricacies, ambivalences, and shifts encoded in the EDA signal. It cannot convey them to reinforcement learning algorithms. Tools of fractal geometry perform numerical quantification of its fractal dimensions on the one-dimensional vector. This process generates a matrix of temporal fractal expressions of the signal (a two-dimensional tensor).
Since EDA is a signal, it can be further analysed with various techniques from signal processing to provide additional dimensions of information. Again, without delving into the mathematical intricacies of each method and with their implementations readily made, they will be briefly sketched with simplified analogies. The Fourier Transform (FFT) is the first technique used in this research to extract dominant frequencies frequency bands in the EDA signal. Thinking of a painting, FFT would determine broad strokes and predominant colours. In the case of an EDA signal, it could articulate something akin to general moods or emotions without labelling them. The frequency content generated by FFT for each temporal dimension of a two-dimensional tensor adds another dimension to the tensor, making it three-dimensional.
While FFT articulates a broader pattern, another signal processing technique, wavelets, can be used to capture sudden and transient changes in the signal, mainly when applied to fractal and multifractal resolutions. This would be akin to zooming in on details in the painting or capturing intricate patterns. An EDA signal, could articulate mood swings or their triggers or precursors, but again, simply in the form of intensities without conceptual designation. Adding wavelet coefficients results in a four-dimensional tensor. While adding dimensions to the tensor increases the possibility of capturing delicate nuances, it brings along the famous “curse of dimensionality”, in which data in dimensions becomes sparse and hard to analyse. Since a four-dimensional structure already entails many problems of higher dimensions, it is considered sufficient here as the holder of arousal and the conceptual problem to handle.
Despite this ability to carry the intricacies of the arousal, multidimensional structures are not 3D-printable and require a dimension reduction. Rather than simplifying the tensor’s four-dimensional data into a representational 3D model, required by the 3D-printing process, the artist took a radical approach of excessive reduction from four-dimensional tensor to a two-dimensional surface, a form of “data violence”, not merely simplifying it, but fundamentally changing its essence. This excessive transformation, while appearing to be a reduction, is not a loss but rather a conduit to a different type of tension -- a libidinal tension -- that creates a plane or “cutting surface”, expressing the arousal as a radical dimensional difference. Cutting across the two-dimensional matrix of identical, needle-like 3D models triggers a generative differential process, rendering each model unique, thus revealing the difference as the originating and productive of identities.
In the final sculpture, the surface of arousal appears as an invisible form, represented in different lengths of the tips in the sculpture. At the same time, it reconstructs and emanates dimensions of arousal that would be lost in the mere representational translation. “Representing” and “not-representing” simultaneously inhabit an ana-materiality inherent in 3D print and its pharmacological, paradoxical nature. Just as Golding’s formulation of “being-with-altogether-different” difference as a paradox enables ana-material difference to be grasped: both inside and outside of the logic of discourse, like the stairs in  M.C. Escher’s lithography Klimmen en dalen in the logic of perspective. On one, and the only one side of Möbius band.
The multifractal, mathematical tensor, as a result of heterogenetic translation of fractal dimensions, accomplishes a significant feat in the movement towards uninterrupted libidinal flows: it captures nuanced intricacies, broad tendencies, transitional events, and sudden shifts inherent in arousal and hidden in EDA signal -- in each of its fractal dimensions. In the framework of libidinal geometry, it constitutes a fundamental building block of a computational sensuous environment in which advanced reinforcement learning agents will connect to the libidinal flow emanating from sentient beings.
Nevertheless, it needs a translation that can translate it back into the physical world. In Landscapes of Pain the work of the translation is carried out by the artist to enable the uninterrupted flow of the libidinal force. However, in 3D printing, the translation requires a mathematical three-dimensional model that already brings the conceptual thickness along to be rigidly translated point for point, layer by layer, or line of code by line of code into the physical world. Devoid of libidinal thickness, the representational translation arrests the articulation of the mathematical tensor as the libidinal flow, rendering it a mere representation.
The curatorial reflection on the group exhbition at the House for the End of the World in Berlin (unfortunately only available in German), meditates on the impact of the sculpture, when 3D-printed, blocking the viewers to enter the space:
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