My artistic and academic work is rooted in physics, music and computation and focused on three areas of activity at the intersection of art, design and technology: hybrid instrument (performance practice, physical computing, digital fabrication, enactive interfaces, gesture recognition and mapping), expanded theater (mixed reality, performer centric technologies, performative robotics, real-time multimedia systems) and urban intervention (large scale outdoor projection, mobility, public space). I seek new ways to integrate humanistic thinking and artistic practice into disciplines outside of the arts. I research and develop new instruments and experiences that create shared emotional experiences for people. My work inverts our relationship with technology as consumers, by designing tech-mediated experiences that tap into human creativity, curiosity and empathy.
[outcomes] In addition to exhibiting my work in concert halls, museums, galleries, and public spaces, the outcomes of my research are published in peer-review tech-art journals and conference proceeding, and shared with creative technologists in repositories of hardware designs and software applications. My process of creating an artistic work systematically invents and documents tools and methodologies for creative technologists. My contributions therefore include not only installation art and live performance, but also reusable code for real-time audiovisual applications, designs for printed circuit boards for creative physical computing applications, and curricula for integrating art design and technology in today’s hybrid classroom. While my creative practice engages our relationship with technological on a conceptual level, I maintain strong thrusts in software and hardware design, experimental sensing and mapping to affect the direction of technological development in my intellectual community.
[hybrid instruments] I am interested in how mobile computing and real-time software can extend existing performance practices. Specifically, I research and develop hybrid expressive instruments that combine parametric design and digital fabrication, with artificial intelligence, interactivity and real-time audio-video. I have also created a number of works at the intersection of art, technology and biology with my art-partner Robin Meier. A trilogy of works titled The Sisters includes interactive installations with mosquitoes singing (Truce, 2009), ants making choices (The Tragedy of the Commons, 2010) and bees building (If The Lion Could Speak…. 2011). These works were prompted striking research from the natural and social sciences about an aspect of the organism’s behavior that is not only spectacular (e.g. mosquitoes tuning in their buzzing sound to a stimulus pitch) but also begging anthropomorphic interpretation (e.g. altruistic behavior in atta ant colonies).
[expanded theater] As the boundaries between theater, art, entertainment and everyday life continue to expand through engagement with new technologies, it is critical that emerging artists and technologists be provided with the tools, language, and vision to thrive in the new millennium. As part of Carnegie Mellon’s Integrated Media Program based in Pittsburgh and New York City, I lead an interdisciplinary cohort of faculty and students with Professors Larry Shea and Marianne Weems in reanimating classical modes of performance with media, networks, robotics, locative applications, and mobile systems. Considering theater as an ancient technology of mass participation and social cohesion, this research explores how emerging technologies can expand upon the basic theatrical relationships in new and culturally relevant ways. A recent project within this realm is telepuppet.tv, an augmented puppetry platform that explores immigration narratives as content for public projection experiences. My current project within this area is the Shahnamah Remix, an opera based on the classic 11th century text by the persian poet Ferdowsi, composed for a solo performer and a squadron of 15-20 aerial robots. Creating this work includes leading a team of computer science and robotics students to develop a software pipeline for gesture-recognition and robotic-behavior-generation; working with an MFA candidate to develop the script for the performance based on the original text, and directing an arts/computer science student in developing new real-time animation tools.
[urban intervention] I research and develop methodologies for leveraging technology to create shared experiences for people in public spaces. My interest in urban intervention practices is rooted in extensive exploration of urban projection. My work with the projection collective The MAW included hundreds of commissioned (e.g. The Battle of Everyouth, La Musée Itinerant, Seaworthy), planned (e.g. Battle Scene, or impromptu public performances through which our team developed and tested software and hardware instruments for mobile projection work. MAW worked with arts organizations (e.g. Northern Light, Soap Factory), community organizations (e.g. Juxtaposition Art, Intermedia Arts, West Bank Social Center) and a university class to introduce mobile projection to a wider audience and develop teaching materials and easy-to-use software. This work led to the establishment of The Center for Urban Intervention Research (CUIR) at CMU, supported by a grant from Creative Capital. CUIR has continued this line of inquiry by producing a publication, A Manual for Urban Projection, two new commissioned works (Gutless Warrior, Statuevision) and a partnership with DRIFT Pittsburgh in producing a recurring river-based projection performance series called H3O.
[Teaching+Research] I integrate my research interests into the classroom systematically and students involved in research, performance and publication often. I have designed introductory and advanced courses at the intersection of art, design and technology for each of my three areas of focus. I iterate the syllabi for these courses regularly in order to maintain a deep connection between teaching and research as well as a keen awareness of the cutting-edge of the fast-evolving tech-arts sector.
My experience as an Iranian immigrant makes me hyper-aware of the complex political and social conversations between The East and The West. My installation Smoke and Hot Air, a collaboration with sculptor Robin Mandel, is a response to the relentless threats made against Iran by a myriad of more fortunate countries. The piece uses smoke rings as a symbol for romanticized power and sexualized violence. "Attack Iran" and similar phrases scavenged from Google News are spoken using a text-to-speech synthesizer. The voice is subsequently picked up by a microphone, analyzed, and translated into rhythmically corresponding smoke rings via a quartet of smoke ring makers. In The Women's Desert Liberation Front (WDLF), Jenny Schmid and I explore the awe-inspiring cultural clashes in modern day Egypt. WDLF draws attention to the breadth and depth of the east-west conversation and the organic ways it is spreading around the globe.
I collaborate with faculty and students from across the university. My present research projects include
Ali Momeni, Research Statement May 2015