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Harmony in Precarity

PO-HAO CHI's proposal for Zero Gravity Flight class

Published onDec 01, 2020
Harmony in Precarity
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Harmony in Precarity

How could microgravity/hypergravity shape our sensory perceptions with weightlessness? How to exploit the spatial aspect of sound as a distinct parameter and relate to ourselves? Speculating these qualities in tandem plays an essential role in this project.

me wearing the device on the ground

Harmony in Precarity is about making an augmented musical interface to explore unfamiliar moments free from verticality. The rootless state in parabolas is a metaphor and generative method for "precarity." Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day introduces Precarity's original meaning as "depending on the will or pleasure of another," which comes from the Latin for prayer. Precarity is everywhere, it seems. Perhaps it is, as Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing writes, "the condition of our time." It is also the defining feature of an entire class of people, the precariat.

In outer space, the remnants of artifacts are becoming the relics of a new frontier. I regard the precarious spatiality and materiality as an emerging form of sonic thought and imagination on space exploration.


The musical interface can function as a wearable medium that reacts to the operator's body dynamic or as an autonomous device with weightlessness. It simulates "rainstick," an ancient musical instrument used by natives of South America to summon wind and rain and avoid drought. With multiple stick-piezo connected to extended springs inside plastic tubes as a contact microphone, the system captures piezoelectric signals when particles hit and transmit vibrations and collisions of fragmented debris inside the device to a customized sonification program during weightless periods.

System diagram

About Me

PO-HAO CHI (ACT"21) is an interdisciplinary practitioner working across music, technology, and art from Taiwan. His practice stems from the fascination of boundaries and guidelines, associating diversities from observations in daily life. He is the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize First Prize recipient at MIT in 2021. His recent research focuses on agencies and collaborative capacities between humans and artifacts with the evolving connectivity. His studio "Zone Sound Creative" is a cultural agent that bridges people and encourages dialogues across disciplines. Taiwan Ministry of Culture has granted his ongoing projects "3000 Years Among Microbes" and "Plastic Soup," collaborating with artists/researchers from the MIT community for techno-art and international networking development. Po-Hao received an MMus from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a BA in Economics from National Taiwan University. He used to be a contracted musician/songwriter for record labels. He was granted as the resident artist at Taiwan National Theater and Concert Hall in 2019.



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