Amygdala – Marco Donnarumma (IT, DE)

Amygdala MK3 is an artificially intelligent (AI) robot in the form of an uncanny human-like limb, hung inside an industrial-grade computer server cabinet. The robot’s only aim is to learn an animistic ritual of purification known as “skin-cutting”. Thus, Amygdala uses a knife to repetitively and carefully manipulate and sculpt its own skin, on and on. Driven by adaptive neural networks the robot teaches itself the physical and cognitive discipline to perform the ritual. The specific kinds of neural networks behind Amygdala imitate the sensorimotor system of animals, meaning that the robot’s movement are not pre-programmed, but emerge spontaneously and iteratively from the activity of the neural networks. Rituals of purification and AI technology are both means of social categorization and thus reflect the hidden systems of untold signs and rules which societies are based upon. With its disturbing and sensual performance, Amygdala reanimates a key symbol of human history through the glare of today’s technocratic society.

Born in Napoli, Italy, 1984. Lives and Works in Berlin. A unique presence across contemporary performance and media art, Marco Donnarumma distinguishes himself by his use of emerging technology to deliver artworks that are at once intimate and powerful, oneiric and uncompromising, sensual and confrontational. Working since the early 2000s with biotechnology, biophysical sensing, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and neurorobotics, Donnarumma expresses the chimerical nature of the body with a new and unsettling intensity. He is renown for his focus on sound, whose physicality and depth he exploits to create experiences of instability, awe, shock and entrainment.