Turbo Twins: Lisa and Nicole Abahuni

Interview by Tracey Huger

Two 2000 computer art alumnae, Lisa and Nicole Abahuni, were winners of the 2000 Alumni Scholarship Award. In their application for the scholarship they wrote: "Five years ago we enrolled in the School of Visual Arts... and were awed by the tremendous opportunities of new technology in art. We want to explore art of multi-sensory disciplines through interactive installations consisting of sound, sight and electronics."

We caught up with the "turbo twins" six months after their graduation to see how they were doing and check the current status of their innovative scholarship-supported senior computer art project, "Chaotic Robotic Synesthesia."

Tracey Huger: Please describe the concepts behind your work and the ideas and relationships you hope to explore with it.

Turbo Twins: In reading The Power of Limits by Gyorgy Doczi, we discovered the work of Jean Dauven, a scientist concerned with psychology and hypnosis. Our SVA sculpture professor, Andrew Ginzel, introduced this book to us. We were inspired by Dauvenís proven theory (published in Couleurs, No. 77, September 1970, Paris) which says that light, color and sound share the same vibration rates. Intrigued by this and fascinated by synesthesia- the production of a subjective response normally associated with one sense by the stimulation of another sense- we have created an environment in which we can investigate a synesthetic experience. Our performance "Chaotic Robotic Synesthesia" explores the sharing of the senses; the vibration of music and color through the overall fusing of the minds of machines, artists and musicians. In this performance, music, colors and lines are created through interaction. The parameters are constant, but the decisions made by each individual are variable.

This performance includes two infrared robots, one programmed platform, seven human musicians and two human animators. The artistic processes are independent decisions guided by set parameters and placed in a shared environment. There are seven colored lights, seven keys and seven musicians involved, and the mixing of colors and the sharing of frequencies propel the music. In this coexistence, each part of the whole is equally dependent and equally important in creating this visual explanation of harmonies between color and sound, man and machine. The audience is provoked to observe the consonances and dissonances in the forms of color and music.

TH: Tell us about your experience in the fine art and computer art world as professional artists and as students.

TT: Some words of advice to pass on: If you have something interesting to say, you will find that people are willing to listen. As recent graduates and newcomers to the fine art world, we are continually encouraged by the constructive feedback that we have been receiving through our performances and exhibits. Our debut of "Chaotic Robotic Synesthesia" last September 9 at the New York Hall of Science, was a rewarding experience. The artists and musicians that we work with are an integral part of our work. We look forward to future collaborations in New York and abroad.

Another thing: There are many opportunities beyond commercialism in computer art. The fine arts world is embracing this new medium in the form of electronic sounds, movement and interactivity at festivals and exhibitions around the world. It is quite an exciting time to be an artist working with the tools that are formulating the basis for a new genesis in art.

TH: What was the initial inspiration to integrate these elements in your work?

TT: Artists in white lab coats...The initial inspirations of our work is our fascination with the inherent qualities found in art, music and nature. Collaboration is at the root of our thinking. Our inherent bond as twins is the origin for the pursuit of the intrinsic relationships between elements. Shared decisions made through interactivity generate the propulsion for an entirely new sensibility. The displacement of roles between man and machine encourages a cooperation between two forms of intelligence. Fusion between performers and observers will create a passage to an unbounded awareness of sensations being formulated.

Computer art is no longer bounded by the traditional framework: monitor, keyboard and mouse. We strongly believe that these elements can (and should) be completely discarded for a more creative form. The concept of creating and extracting completely personal works from computers and technology can shatter any preconceived notions of how computer art is defined.

TH: What do you want your audience to take from your work? How do you see your art expanding in the future?

TT: Ultimately, we would like our work to create new relationships in the territory between existing sensory systems. We want to investigate the subliminal relationships between the interconnectivity of life and the parametric order of forms. The active forging of tactile, aural and visual perception between humans and in collaboration with technology asks questions that can yield ways of better understanding, seeing and hearing the natural order.

For more information regarding the Abahuni twins and "Chaotic Robotic Synesthesia" please contact them at .