Spoon Fed No. 7
previous proposal - - - all proposals - - - next proposal

The Softening of MAO-A :: Tom Bailey

I am an emerging Bristol-based theatre and performance maker producing work under the name, The Mechanical Animal Corporation. My work primarily responds to the vast changes going on to biological life in the 21st century.

I’ve been selected to present a project at an international exhibition called World Stage Design in Cardiff, September 2013. It’s a project that I’ve had in development in various forms for some time, and I’m looking to complete it as an installation for this exhibition. I also aim to present it in Bristol.

The Project:
It’s called The Softening of MAO-A. Briefly, it’s a performance installation responding to themes in genetic engineering that are transforming our lives. It offers a scenario in which ‘scientifically-composed’ soundscapes are used to transform, live, the structure of a single gene in the human body (MAO-A). It takes place within a simply-designed 'evolution chamber'.

MAO-A (or Monoamine Oxidase) is one of the only genes to have been linked conclusively to human behaviour, making us susceptible to violence. In my installation, its output is changed to lead the human body away from violence, forever. Over 30 minutes audiences are exposed to series of sonic stimuli – 4 especially composed soundscapes.

The project’s format is also partly modeled on a new industry called DTC (Direct to Consumer genetics) in which you pay to discover what genes you’ve got, and therefore make future choices. My work is an experiential critique of these presently unfolding genetic futures, via an intimate moment with a tiny gene in your body.

How do we transform a gene through sound?

Working with a sound artist and field recordist) Simon Whetham), I’m constructing a para-science of ‘Paleo-Musicology’, whereby we control the MAO-A gene’s production via sonic rhythms, built from reconstructions of what a particular point on Earth might have sounded like at certain moments of geological history.

The experience is ‘minimalist’, enjoyable and highly relaxing.

Why I am applying for Spoon Fed support:
Sound is central to this project. I really need to purchase some silent disco headphones and a simple, possibly second hand, Berringer mixer to make the installation workable. Even as much as £150 would be sufficient for me to purchase a mixer and up to 5 headphones. Without these the project won’t work. Because of the nature of the project, I’m unable to obtain ACE funding or other support, and am very much in need of Spoon Fed support.

While I really hope that this is a really interesting, exciting project, it presents a great opportunity for me as a Bristol artist to present something on a major international scale at the exhibition. I also very much want to present it in Bristol to offer something to the creative and cultural landscape of the city.