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The Technology Issue

A Twitch In Time

Daito Manabe is a Japanese video artist who sticks half a dozen electrodes onto his face, synchs them all up to a blippy homemade soundtrack, and proceeds to electrocute himself into a choreography of grimaces and twitches.
Tomo Kosuga
Κείμενο Tomo Kosuga

Vice: What was the thinking behind Electric Stimulus to Face?

Daito Manabe:

So you took up the task of hard-wiring your own face to prove him wrong?

What went wrong?

Which was the whole point, right?

Electric Stimulus to Face

Was there anything else you hoped to accomplish?

Ping Body

Your video reminded me of an experiment Luigi Galvani conducted. He hooked up a dead frog with electrodes and moved its muscles by sending electric pulses.


Well, if there wasn’t exactly an army of people like you before your video spread across the internet, there certainly is now. There must be a convention or something, right?

Is that idea useful in describing what you do?

Was it always your plan to take Electric Stimulus to Face global via YouTube, or was it just a coincidence?

Electric Stimulus and uploaded it to YouTube

Was the international attention immediate?

I imagine that quickly made you a convert to the mainstream appeal YouTube offers.

That’s refreshingly populist.

The ease and reach of user-generated video sites are proving pretty handy for artists.

Stills from Electric Stimulus to Face: Test 3

You often use the word “test” in the titles and descriptions of your videos. Is that just to cover your ass or what?

You have another video up called Myoelectric Sensor, and the description says, “Please think of this as a new type of instrument.” This time it’s your hands and feet that are synched to sounds! How is this different from the face thing?

Electric Stimulus to Face

Was it a similar process?

So choreography spurs the music?


So if a dancer improvises a dance routine, the device reacts to the movement and we end up with synchronized music. And if they had sensors all over their bodies we’d have an orchestral thing going?

But for a dancer, movement comes before anything, including sound.

How many sensors did you use for Myoelectric Sensor?


Someone commented on YouTube that Björk is looking for you.

Why is that?

I’m sure people will take you up on that. But first some business: What about this chocolate commercial that blatantly rips off your work? Were you handsomely compensated?

That’s the one.


What do you think the future holds for you?

Is this something you’d test on yourself, or are you soliciting other brave souls?

What a coincidence. Just like the chocolate folks.