Daito Manabe has a history of conducting quirky, painful experiments in which he administers shocks to the human body – usually his own – powerful enough to cause involuntary muscle contractions. He uses electricity, music, computers and video to expand on what were literally the earliest scientific experiments ever to be recorded photographically – the electrical shocks to the face of Parisians administered in the 19th century by Guillaume Duchenne.
More videos on his work are embedded below, but first, his latest project: Manabe has integrated with a touch-sensitive control system his earlier experiments in syncing the movements of his own face to music by administering shocks powerful enough to induce involuntary muscle contractions.
To sort out what’s going on here, it helps to understand the origins of Manabe’s work: in a 2009 interview, he told me that he’d originally begun his investigations of myoelectric shocks in an effort to copy expressions from one person’s face to another. This work was itself inspired by pioneering work in electrophysiology conducted by G.B. Duchenne. (Duchenne, in turn, was inspired by Galvani, who conducted the famous experiment in which he shocked the severed legs of a frog, watched them contract, and changed the world of neuophysiology forever by showing that nerve impulses were in essence electrical.)
External electric shocks are a fairly blunt instrument, which is why, in the opening of Manabe’s “electric stimulus to face -test3” he opens the piece by taking a deep breath. The 10v, 0.2mA shocks he’s receiving in the most sensitive parts of his face (the eyes, etc.) are painful. Here’s a full explanation of that experiment, VH1 pop-up video style:
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient
The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.
Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?
The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.
We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.
Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.