The Internet of Beings - an interview with Martine-Nicole Rojina

By Etienne Verbist - Monday, April 3, 2017
The Internet of Beings - An Interview with Martine-Nicole Rojina

Martine-Nicole Rojina: "I believe in the tradition of mastery. I thrive for a holistic upgrade of perception, awareness and knowledge and dig deep into all elements involved to master the alchemical system. In the inside, as on the outside. As above, so below."

The Internet of Beings - an interview with Martine-Nicole Rojina

EVB: Who are you and WHY do you do what you do?

I will try to answer it in two sentences first: A professional music- and immersive multimedia content producer, speaker and consultant for immersive Audio/Visual innovation, VR, AR and future technology and a creative social activist. My curiosity and empathy for technology, science, engineering, economy, society, art and education are the core drivers of my transdisciplinary projects and collaborations in the MPATHY STUDIO, where I function as a "bridge" to create common ground for multiple fields of expertise.

To link different fields of research and experimentation into innovative artistic work, sensual perceptions and societal discourse, you need a transdisciplinary mind. My brain is wired in an interconnected way, I never was "only" a musician even if a big part of my career was to release records worldwide.

“Tod und Leere” is a permanent window installation in Munich since 2012. Part of an artistic experiment design in collaboration with the Human Science Institute Munich, trying to detect the center of truthfulness in an fMRI brain scanner

 “Marsmobil – Minx” was released at GStone and Compost Records in 2006

But to be honest, it took me a while to acknowledge it and develop the self confidence to be an inventor, who is specialising in more fields than just one, like the old masters did, a holistic and innovative mindset. I fuse an immersive dialogue between the past, present and future into seminars, performances, installations, events and mesmerizing content creation to display innovative international excellence and debate contemporary societal topics.

“Why waves make sense to me”, Martine-Nicole Rojina, immersive and multidimensional talk at TEDxGhent, Juli 2017

I guess, if a day would have 48 hours, I would work in a laboratory and do scientific research and experiments, too. I'm very passionate about science, exploration and finding my personal "theory of everything" in quantum physics as well as in music or other fields I decide to dig deeper into.

Currently I'm transforming the sculpture Rock Strangers Oostende by Arne Quinze into a music instrument and produce, compose and mix three dimensional music together with classical musicians, who never worked in a contemporary "electronic" music studio before. Together we became “sculpture musicians” and commonly explore “sound composed for a space” in a new way. I am grateful to be supported by the creator of the sculpture, the Cultural Department of Oostende and many worldwide leading technology partners, with whom we develop an innovative immersive Audio/Visual and even Virtual and Augmented Reality experience.

“Rock Strangers Make Sense To Me” - Creation Movie

On the MPATHY STUDIO website you can watch more videos and listen to the constantly evolving demos on soundcloud.

EVB: What’s your goal?

Out of this collaboration, the international transdisciplinary art collective PERMEABLE was born, which I lead and organise. I invite open minded visionaries to collaborate under a very empathic and exchange oriented mission statement: We want to activate the inner fascination, identification and participation without the need of specific expertise or knowledge. We discover personal, European and global growth in an active and common process. We dream of worldwide collaborations with international visionaries in multiple expertise areas and of traveling in the pursuit of exchange.

But to give you a more tangible example: One of my works consisted of collaborating with the Human Science Institute Munich and neurology professor Prof. Dr. Ernst Pöppel. We designed an artistic experiment for a fMRI scanner, which would show my brain activity while I was trying to feel truthful.

I used this images and data to create several different pieces, even made my brain-truthfulness- activity the cover for the single "Toll" from my former German singing band WEITER, because of the double meaning of the word in German being either "great" or "crazy". Literally translated, the lyrics of the refrain were "I don't want what you want from me, I find truthfulness is really great/crazy" (Ich will nicht was ihr von mir wollt, ich find' Wahrhaftigkeit echt toll).

The brain in a scanner can't lie and art and the artist will, in my opinion, always borderline between "great" and "crazy" if he/she is truthful.

 “WEITER” – TOLL was released at Island Records / Universal in 2013

When I told the medical technicians who controlled the scanner what we are doing, they seriously started to cry of happiness. They were so touched by the fact that an artist tries to use a technology, which most of the people are afraid of being there to find "unwanted" things in their head, in such a romantic way. When we scrolled through the images - actually showing the amount of oxygen in the blood, which is increasing in the active parts of the brain - all of us were mutually excited and curious.

So, in a way we all were artists, scientists, engineers and technicians at the same time and the borders and categories were gone. I love when this happens, all eyes of the participants are glowing like childrens' eyes...

EVB: What will be the impact of what you do?

In times like today, where everything is overloaded with information and speed, I hope that I can create immersive experiences which reconnect people to the here and now. Including themselves. With the help of transdisciplinary projects I try to transmute perceptions and sensitize people, to achieve a more direct and yet delicate way to communicate.

 “IntraSpection”

My video performance IntraSpection deals with my controversial view on psycho pharma and its role in society, where the pressure of societal expectations get so high that one has to accept the external modification to “fit in the system”, even if means to take mood regulating or mood enhancing drugs. From about 55 pictures, which were taken in different emotional states, I cut out my eyes and mouth, which are taped on me, being inside a kind of cocoon, by an unknown male and female hand, while I try to stand still and accept what I am undergoing for about 15 minutes. The mirror neurons of the human brain are automatically trying to make emotional sense out of a face which features eyes and mouth, so I am playing with that automatism of the audience.

PATH [ ποίησις ] featuring the brain colour language of Jasna Rok at De Grote Post in Oostende 2017

In the immersive literature performance PATH [ ποίησις ] three performers, two musicians, smart textiles, Artificial Intelligence and a quadrophonic sound art installation decode a poetry piece in form of cryptic voices, the random emotionalisation of a morse code translation interpreted by text to speech programs, brainwaves and sign language. We are debating the existence of art from the beginning of time and space, trough evolution and the different states of society.

PATH [ ποίησις ] featuring the brain colour language of Jasna Rok at De Grote Post in Oostende 2017

My TEDxGhent talk “Why waves make sense to me” was the first collaboration with Jasna Rok (http://www.jasnarok.com), a Belgian tech fashion designer who created Fashion On Brainwaves, a collection where your clothes are responding to your brainwaves detected with an EEG sensor. I was wearing her dress, which translated my brainwaves into colours on my spine and this way, Jasna and anybody else who knew the interpretation of the colour code could “read” my state of mind.

We use the same dress in the literature performance, as it is all about “finding ways to communicate” in the artistic process and the process of writing a piece of poetry. We stimulate to answer the call of our inspiration in form of synaesthetic associations and interactivity, so we are able to immerse in memorable experiences. Besides this we can make innovations visible and create a network of international visionaries of multiple fields of expertise.

Considering the “social impact” I will later talk about my collaboration with Syrian refugees and my education projects.

EVB: What is your dream project?

Well, I dreamt of this one night: I was collaborating with NASA and floating in a spaceship. We were releasing a kind of future-fiber-fisher-net into space, which had little colour pumps at the knots of the net. There was a colour matrix on a screen on which I could paint or play music. The pumps released colour patterns in form of little colour drops (like analogue colour pixels) into space and the resulting artworks were eternally floating through the universe. I like to give creations their own freedom to exist and evolve.

But honestly, every project I do is my dream project while I do it and luckily the more you do and show remarkable results, the more visionaries get interested in collaborating. I trust the process of my life by being open to possibilities every second again and not narrow my horizon too much.

EVB: What role does the artist have in society?

“Destruction for Beginners – Reloaded”

Since december 2013, I am co-writing and performing the physical theatre performance “Destruction for beginners” together with the Syrian choreographer and political refugee Mey Seifan and dramaturg Ziad Adwan, which is based on the Syrian Dreams Project, an archive of dreams shared by Syrians since 2011.

The performance is very surreal, associative and dream like and mostly based on nightmares, so it takes a lot of strength to play it, but I see it as a necessity for artists to create a possibility for awareness, help and change in the world of today. We recently performed in Tunisia at the Journées théâtrales de Carthage and people were shouting “Syria, Syria” during a presentation about the piece. I started crying on stage, because I felt the strength of humanity and solidarity and the meaningful work artists can create to support it.

Mey Seifan´s current project Siesta tries to explore the collective subconsciousness of a society, which is undergoing a revolution. Our collaboration develops different outputs in form of art pieces, but also researches on Lucid Dreaming techniques, which are supposed to help humans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute.

I believe that artists are a sort of creative philosophers, even educators and that is the reason why my interest is parallel to my artistic work directed towards exchange and education.

I love the fact that age makes no difference when it comes to fascination, so my work as a Professor in “Transdisciplinary Project Management” for Bachelor students at the School of Audio Engineering has the same emotional value than being a multidisciplinary art and language teacher for children.

EVB: What memorable responses have you had to your projects?

While we were creating the first version of “Destruction for beginners” in November and December 2013, I felt the deep urge to understand the profound inner world of humans, which were in the midst of a revolution. I struggled with the lack of empathy I could have, simply because of the fact that I didn´t make the same experiences, yet was involved in a collaboration which should come as close as possible to perceiving a nightmare of a Syrian. Dreams are so personal.

“Destruction for Beginners – Reloaded”

It was the following moments that made me understand that I should not be afraid to feel different, but rather embrace connection. One of our characters is the “special guest”, he sits on the side of the stage with the back to the audience and watches the play. It was played by Amer Matar, a director and journalist from Syria. He was an independent journalist, but at a certain point was declared as an enemy, caught and tortured. Three times. When he entered the rehearsal space I saw a beautiful man, but his eyes seemed empty from the pain. 

“Destruction for Beginners – Reloaded”

At a certain point in the performance his character would steer a helium balloon fish via a wireless remote control through the theatre space, so Mey showed him how to do it. He was a bit insecure first, touched the knobs on the remote very gently and then the magic happened. He had so much fun, his eyes were glowing like the ones of a child, still innocent and not knowing about the madness of the world. This experience changed me. 

“Destruction for Beginners – Reloaded”

One of my strongest characters, when I perform in the piece, is the friendly terrorist, which was described by an artist refugee friend of our choreographer Mey. In Abd Hakawatis dream, the terrorist understood the meaniglessness of his actions and flies into the sky. 

During our premiere in the iCAMP theater in Munich, the first row of seats was filled with laptops and skype sessions with refugee friends from all around the world and after the performance Abd Hakawati, who saw the “friendly terrorist” later told us, that this repeating nightmare disappeared. He never saw the friendly terrorist again.

This is when I strongly felt that art can transform the world and it is my purpose to continue.

EVB: What do you dislike about the art world?

I dislike that there exists something like an “art world”, a category. My life is all about personal exchange and sometimes, when you don´t fit into a certain category, people are not listening to your proposal. You are not “this” enough and you should rather go for “that” idea… But it has a reason why you thought of that specific person and I believe we should listen to each other.

Innovation and transdisciplinarity is all about leaving the comfort zone and making new connections. If you don´t listen, exchange ideas based on empathy and try, you are lost. I truly hope that in the future society will have made a “mindset” shift, where categories and competition are no longer appreciated.

The value of a creation goes beyond limitations of a status, bank account, nationality and territorial behaviour.

I heart failure 2011, in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, 2012), Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Dipl.-Phys. Thomas Fritz, Dipl.-Ing. Walther Schulze, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Olaf Dössel)

Already in 2011 in my video installation I HEART FAILURE in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, I reflect on the heart and society as compensating organs.

At the time, it was a worldwide premiering medical imagery of the failing parts in the heart muscle, which indicate where the next failure will most likely happen, because the heart simply beats stronger in the healthy parts. This technique gave a precise location of the weakened spot and made it possible to support this area.

I wrote fictional stereotypical dialogues of very narrow-minded humans, which try to communicate, but in the end do not reach any common understanding. The heart beating in the center of the screen seems to comment on this miscommunication and ultimately fails. 

It was exhibited as a “Permanent Night Installation for Gallery and Headphones” in Munich and at the TRANSMEDIALE 2011. Bothe exhibition spaces had big windows and were visually beating to the colour mapping of the heart. So, the Gallery as a part of a city became the social debate itself.

EVB: What role does art funding have?

Well, I have to say bluntly honest that I appreciate any kind of support, which is based on mutual respect and a common goal. For two of my latest creations I am funded by the Cultural Department of Oostende (Belgium) and I have nothing to complain, because I am granted total freedom and respect. I can pay my team, which makes it possible we can spend time together and work on a new performance. So I am grateful for that.

You can follow the artistic process of working with the sounds of the Rock Strangers and the Cultural Department of Oostende here:

“The making of a TEDxGHENT talk”

More generally speaking, I think that the space of reflection, which art generates, is necessary for humanity and a healthy society will find models to support their “creative philosophers”.

EVB: What research do you do?

I believe in the tradition of mastery. I thrive for a holistic upgrade of perception, awareness and knowledge and dig deep into all elements involved to master the alchemical system. In the inside, as on the outside. As above, so below.

A master is a craftsman/woman, who knows about all influences on a material. It reaches all elements of existence, from quantum physics to technology to engineering to philosophy to art… I try to learn enough about all topics, which intrigue me, and create my own “theory of everything”, like discovering an invisible web of functions that make sense to me.

Right now I am applying for a residency at the LHC CERN particle collider. My dream is to create a realistic representation of a particle collision in three dimensional sound. To achieve this, I have to understand and combine both: Particle physics and a wave field audio synthesis. I absolutely love this project for its alchemical approach.

HOLON SPC Sound Particle Collider

So, when I have found a certain topic I want to follow, I literally dissolve in my research and take a journey in all of its fibers and connections. This can mean that I am spending days in the jungle of the internet and other sources, until I am so saturated with information, that I have to stop the research to digest and wait for the piece to fall into place. This “vision birth” can take months sometimes, but it happens by itself at a certain point.

Since my experiences in the floating tank, an egg shaped bathtub with a lid, which is filled with a highly concentrated salt water solution, I learned to communicate with my subconsciousness. A powerful tool to be in touch with your intuition.

The initial name was “sensory deprivation tank”, because your senses are excluded from light, sound, body temperature regulation and gravity. All the computing power your brain usually uses for this systems, is a free source now and at the same time your body relaxes entirely.

In a two year long artistic collaboration with the owners of a floating center in Munich, I had the change to travel inside the tank during the closing hours and in average spent 3 hours per session for 3 to four days per week in sensory deprivation.

While you float, your free brain capacity transforms into vivid imagination, similar to the moment just before you fall asleep.

I learned a lot about energy and the power of the subconsciousness over our daily life and how to reshape it. The tanks are also used for speed learning, because in this state our brain seems to be a bit more flexible in creating new neuronal connections.

Now, as I moved, I switched to self-hypnosis and meditation.

EVB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

When I was about nine years old, my christmas present was a Karaoke machine, which had two tape decks: One to play the instrumentals and one to record my voice on top of it. I quite soon realized that I can sing more tracks than just one, by simply switching the tapes over and over and in that way create my first "multitrack" recordings.

At the age of 13 my mother bought me a guitar and found a teacher, who was totally fascinated that, after learning my first three chords (D, G, A), I arrived in the next lesson with a fully composed pop-song "recorded" on cassette. He proposed to give me lessons in songwriting in his home studio. So, I'm still incredibly grateful, I got educated as a professional studio singer, musician and music producer, which at that time was a revelation to me, a half German, half Slovenian "puberty girl" growing up in a suburb of Munich.

Thanks to him, I had a purpose. This profound understanding lasts until now. Find someone who understands and supports you and you can achieve big goals.

EVB: What would you have done differently?

Although I had quite struggling times, I don´t regret what I did and I wouldn´t change my path. It brought me to where I am now. I can imagine that from the outside my devotion to creation looks quite extreme, as in the picture below where I decided to shave my head for an artistic series of pictures on the theme of the “contemporary shaman”.

But this is how I am, I follow my artistic intuition to reach my desired level of intensity.

"Contemporary Shaman" foto series in collaboration with Florian Seidel, Make Up & Styling Arno Humer

EVB: What is the role of the people, the crowd in your project?

As I already mentioned, I understand the artist as a creative philosopher. My work is a sort of reflector for a global community, which goes beyond categories. I am grateful for every form of exchange and I stay curious to find points of views and movements, which brings people to a common, empathic, respectful and peaceful experience.

EVB: How can they participate in your project?

The audience is an essential part of my projects as I work with their perception as the missing link between my creation and the transmission to the crowd.

EVB How are you connected with the people or the crowd?

Mostly via my web page and social media…and by giving interviews like this one. With our next performance during THEATER AAN ZEE 2017 we are transforming a public art sculpture into a music instrument and we will play the Rock Strangers Oostende live.

People can pass by or stay as long as they want to for eight evenings in a row. This approach is a re-contextualisation of public space and a debate on the meaning of shared experiences. With a special sensor we will synchronize the heartbeat of passengers with the lighting elements which will guide the rhythmical speed of our musical interpretations on the sculptures.

So, preferably a connection, which is as analogue as possible.

"ROCK STRANGERS MAKE SENSE TO ME" @ TAZ 2017

For example: I am very much in love with the mobile apps created by artists like Miranda July, Björk and Radiohead, where the user is finalizing the artistic creation or becomes the hero of the story.

Miranda July has a vivid exchange with the users of her app, because she created a platform, where you could ask someone, chosen via the app because of a local proximity to the person you want to communicate with, to deliver a message personally to a stranger for them. In other words: You want to tell your boyfriend that you are late for dinner, but you text it to the app, which will choose a person who is close to your boyfriend and asks this person to go and deliver your message to your boyfriend.

It happens many times that the extraordinary stories are shared on Miranda's facebook profile, where she answers and shares them. To me this approach is rather the “Internet of Beings” in times, where we are so busy with the “Internet of Things” and I am developing a similar concept.

EVB: The crowd economy creates meaningful experiences and shared value, how do you see it for your work?

In the near future I will dive deeper into the possibilities of crowdfunding, because I believe that this is a really interesting concept.

EVB: CO-Creation and participation are emphasized in the crowd economy and communities take an active stake in crafting positive futures.

As a transdisciplinary artist, I am already for a long time “crowd sourcing” by combining art, technology and science. These days I am really excited about the fact that transdisciplinarity now becomes a tolerated field and society begins to understand that one can be a specialist in many areas, providing a broader understanding. 

The Commission of the European Union recently invited me to discuss a longer lasting collaboration and educational projects are showing more and more interest in minds like mine.

As an advisor for AR, VR and future technology I am deeply involved in the concepts of Co-Creation, which will even eliminate the need for a shared actual place. Currently I am collaborating with an AR and VR company on making common artworks online in a shared Virtual or Augmented Reality space, but that will still take a while, because the focus in this projects has to lie on making the User Interface as intuitive as possible.

Following the story of a Virtual Reality game or the structure of a design tool is a different approach than enabling a space where you can get into a creative “flow state” and express yourself as freely as possible. We might have to do another interview on this.

EVB: How do you use the crowd?

I don´t use anybody. Everything will always remain an invitation to participate.

EVB: How do you interact?

On a personal level. To me it means a lot that people reach out to me and I try to answer every question or am open for collaborations.

EVB: How do you handle feedback?

The same way I interact, on a personal level.

EVB: How do you create the interaction?

My personal Martine-Nicole Rojina Facebook profile posts always remain public, so everybody who wants to see a rather personal impression on how I am and what I am interested in can have access. We also have an Instagram account and a Facebook site for the different projects, which are hosted by different people who are in charge of the project communication. I try to share not only my actual work, but also inspirational mindsets. I figured out that people like to have an inside look inside a mind like mine, because they are fascinated and inspired by the way a transdisciplinary brain works.

EVB: What are the results?

Mesmerized people and a growing audience.

 "Why waves make sense to me" – immersive music experience at TEDxGhent

For my TEDxGhent talk I used an immersive 3D sound system of Barco Audio and to make the audience really perceive the sound, I integrated a moment in my talk where 700 people were wearing sleeping masks and that way deprive their visual sense. This activated their “own superpower”, which is basically just enhancing the sensitivity of the ears. I´m quite sure that this 700 people will not forget this experience.

EVB: How do you measure results?

Again: On a personal level. Usually people reach out to me.

I don´t check the statistics on my website views, neither do I count likes or followers. I believe that a good idea and promotion will find its way to the crowd. I rather make a plan on how to promote which project in its own way, so that the right channels are activated and the audience, which might appreciate it the most, will be reached.

EVB How do you measure the effect?

Considering the phenomenon in general, I am really amazed about how many great inventions came to life thanks to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

EVB: Why participate in the MNRMNRX your project?

This question is very hard to answer, because I am someone who lets the vision speak for itself. Hopefully you will see the benefit it can have for you and for the people and realize that it’s a project and professional people worth supporting. As you probably read in this interview, all of my projects are different, they all live in different worlds. So every reason to participate has its own world, too.

EVB What Social Media do you use?

Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/martinenicolerojina

Youtube – various

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/martinenicolerojina

Instagram – ROCK STRANGERS MAKE SENSE TO ME

Etienne Verbist is an authority in the field of crowd sourcing, disruptive business modelling and disruptive art. After a well filled career with companies such as GE, Etienne was an early adopter of crowd sourcing. Etienne is manager Europe and Africa for Crowd Sourcing Week, a board advisor to a broad range of companies on innovation and new technology, curator of the Disruptive Art Museum – the smallest museum in the world – and columnist for ArtDependence Magazine.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Image of the Day

Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995.  Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995. Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

Search

About ArtDependence

ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.

ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.

The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.

If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.