His new video-based studies feature a choir of slumbering performers, whose breath interacts with soft inflatable sculptures. Breath by breath, the sculptures inflate over time. Sound from a vintage analog encephalography (EEG) machine with a mechanical chart recorder offers viewers a sonic, auditory knowledge of the body as the pens from the machine scratch out vital signs. The performances also feature vibraphone, bowed singing bowls, gongs, voice, synthesizer, lap steel guitar, percussion, harmonium, and musical saw.
The idea for incorporating an analog EEG machine into the performance began to develop during Catanese’s sleep study at Michigan Medicine.
“After the sleep study, one of the doctors mentioned that, back in the 1980s when analog EEG machines were in use, you’d know which state of sleep your patient was in by the sound of the pens scratching out graphs,” Catanese said.