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Atau Tanaka





Room: EN 323
Telephone: +49 30 - 314 22327
Office hours: by arrangement


Atau Tanaka uses muscle sensing in performance and research where the human body becomes musical instrument. He studied electronic music with Ivan Tcherepnin at Harvard University (AB Physical Sciences, 1985), then with Morris Cotel and Alan Kefauver in a tonmeister inspired programme at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (BM Composition/BM Recording Arts, 1988). He did his doctorate at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University with John Chowning (MA Computer Music, 1992) and Mark Applebaum (DMA Composition, 2004). In 1992 he received the Stanford Prix de Paris for a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts to carry out research at IRCAM, Centre Pompidou. He moved to Tokyo Japan in 1997 as artist in residence at NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC), and became Special Invited Professor at Keio University (1998), and Associate Professor in Media Art at Chukyo University (2000). He was artiste-professeur at Le Fresnoy (2003), before taking the Chair of Digital Media at Newcastle University (2007) and becoming Director of Culture Lab (2009). Since 2012, he is Professor of Media Computing in the Embodied Audiovisual Interaction (EAVI) unit of the Department of Computing, Goldsmiths University of London.

Atau’s first inspirations came upon meeting John Cage during his Norton Lectures at Harvard. In the 1990s he formed Sensorband with Zbigniew Karkowski and Edwin van der Heide and in the Japanoise scene played alongside Merzbow, Otomo, KK Null. His second trio, Sensors_Sonics_Sights was with Thereminist Laurent Dailleau and visual artist Cecile Babiole.  He has had commissions from SWR2 and Art Zoyd, performed in John Peel’s Meltdown at Southbank London, in the French improvised music scene with Camel Zekri, Metamkine, Le Quan Ninh, and Michel Doneda, in duo with Adam Parkinson (aka Dane Law), and with the visual artist Lillevan. He has releases on Sub Rosa, Bip-hop, Caipirinha Music, Touch/Ash, Sonoris, Sirr-ecords, Goldsmiths Press/NX Records.  

Tanaka has been artistic co-director of STEIM (2007), Artistic Ambassador for Apple France (1996), and researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) Paris (2001). His work has been presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Eyebeam NYC, La Villette Paris, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ZKM Karlsruhe, Musikinstrumenten-Museum Berlin,and has received awards from the Fondation Daniel Langlois, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and Ars Electronica. His research has been supported by the European Research Council (ERC).


A. Tanaka. “Embodied Musical Interaction: Body physiology, cross modality, and sonic experience” In S. Holland, M. Wanderley, A. McPherson, K. Wilkie (eds.), New Directions in Music and Human-Computer Interaction. Springer (2019).

Tanaka, A. and Parkinson, A. “The Problems with Participation.” In Simon Emmerson (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Electronic Music. Ashgate (2018).

Tanaka, A. and Donnarumma, M. “The Body as Musical Instrument.” In Y. Kim and S. Gilman, The Oxford Handbook on Music and the Body. Oxford University Press. (2018).

Tanaka, A. and Ortiz, M. (2017) “Gestural musical performance with physiological sensors, focusing on the electromyogram.” In M. Lesaffre, M. Leman, and P-J. Maes, The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction. Routledge.

Tanaka, A., & Knapp, R. B. (2016). “Multimodal Interaction in Music Using the Electromyogram and Relative Position Sensing.” In M. Lyons & A. R. Jensenius (Eds.), A NIME Reader. Springer. 

Tanaka, A. “Creative Applications of Interactive Mobile Music.” Gopinath and Stanyek (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, 2014, Oxford University Press.

Tanaka, A. “BioMuse to Bondage: Corporeal Interaction in Performance and Exhibition.” M. Chatzi-christodoulou, R. Zerihan (Eds.) Intimacy: Across Visceral and Digital Performance, 2012, Palgrave.

Tanaka, A., Bau, O., Mackay, W. “The A20: Musicking and Sonic Interaction Design Exploration.” In Franinovic, K., Serafin, S. (Eds.) Sonic Interaction Design. MIT Press. 2013.

Jo, Kazuhiro and Tanaka, A. “The Music One Participates In.” In Franziska Schroeder (Ed.) Performing Technology: User Content and the New Digital Media. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2009.

Tanaka, A. “Sensor-based Musical Instruments and Interactive Music.” In Dean, R. (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Computer Music and Digital Sound Culture. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 2009.

Tanaka, A., Gemeinboeck, P. “Net_Dérive: Conceiving and Producing a Locative Media Artwork.” In Goggin, G., Hjorth, L. (Eds.) Mobile Technologies: From Telecommunications to Media. Routledge, London. 2008.

Tanaka, A. “Interaction, Agency, Experience, and the Future of Music.” In Brown, B., O’Hara, K. (Eds.) Consuming Music Together: Social and Collaborative Aspects of Music Consumption Technologies. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) Vol. 35. Springer, Dordrecht. 2006.

Tanaka, A. “Musical Performance Practice on Sensor-based Instruments,” In Wanderley, M., Battier, M. (Eds.) Trends in Gestural Control of Music. IRCAM, Paris. 2000. pp. 389-405. 



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