Electric Face Tests – Daito Manabe

Daito Manabe is a Tokyo based media artist. He is known for collaborating with artists and musicians from a diverse range of genres, working together to develop both large scale events and entertainment projects that specifically utilize programming, sound design, 3d projections, etc. For instance in 2015, Manabe developed the imaging system for Björk’s music video “Mouth Mantra”, and oversaw the production of AR/VR live imaging for her “Quicksand” performance.

Although Manabe’s work include many exciting, intricate, large-scale events and stage-based work, I am more interested in his smaller projects that often introduce his personal friends as models (or one might say, guinea pigs). In his tests of “Electric Stimulus to face”, Manabe uses something extremely similar to an electromyography instrument, and connects it identically to all of his friends faces.


Daito Manabe – Electric Stimulus to face (test4)

By attaching the EMG pads on the specific areas of the face, Manabe is able to stimulate individual face muscles through a sort of musical instrument. This musical instrument, when played, sends electric signals through the EMG instrument, thus resulting in the comical results of his friend’s faces contracting and twitching based on Manabe’s composition.

Although Daito Manabe’s work is not specifically defined as wearable technology, the essence of wearing technology is present in his tests of Electric Stimulus. In this project, Manabe is the only one playing the musical instrument, which could be seen as a mere enjoyment of gaining totalitarian control of his friends, specifically of their faces. Yet, the playfulness and joy of communicating beyond the spoken word, directly through physical muscle reaction seems to land itself in a extremely romantic place.


-Gwen Chiu



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