Machine sense and felt sense … playtime!

An opportunity to play with a range of sensor-based prototypes/tools and costume. The session was structured so that each person had 3 minutes to try out a prototype, followed by a quick group discussion.

Somaya offered “Idio”, an apparatus that generates sound in response to accelerometer data provided by two accelerometers, one strapped to each wrist. My impulse was to play with the relationship of the accelerometers on my wrists, to see what effect this had on the sounds generated. It reminded me of an approach to generating movement imparted by my dance teacher, Annetta Luce that had a particularly powerful effect on my own dancing. That is, by relating one part of the body to another, be it elbow to ankle, head to coccyx, or heart to ovaries. The positioning of the sensors on the body can facilitate this.

George had patched together a simple, yet mesmerising sound generator that took accelerometer data from a Wii remote handheld. His motivation was to encourage slow movements. The sounds generated were tinkling bells +. I decided to draw on my Butoh Bodyweather training in bizeku, where you move as slowly as possible. In doing this, I listened to the sounds produced – delicate and meditative – , but did not attempt to influence the nature of the sound through my actions. The delicacy and fragmented phrasing of the sound made me wonder about a group of performers composing a soundscape through the intermingling of their individual effects.

Jonathan had rigged up an array of liquid crystal panels that changed their opacity in response to data from a proximity sensor. The proximity sensor used ultrasound, with the distance calculated from the delay in the reflected wave. In playing with it, I tried approaching from different angles, at different speeds, to see where the envelope of sensing ended and its sensitivity to change in position.

My offering was costume, with a view to body augmentation, wearables and organic? environments. I had draped a skin-coloured stretchy fabric over a beam and stitched the ends together. This created a membrane or cocoon for people to inhabit and play with. The costume consisted of a plain skin-coloured bodysuit that could be stuffed with a variety of padded shapes filled with dacron soft-fill and/or popcorn. The popcorn gave a nice weightiness and texture to the pads. I was interested to see how people would react, explore, experience. And later to imagine the connections between the use of costume and the sensor technologies …

For many, the putting on of the garments was a performance in itself … and very funny.

George escaping the cocoon

George escaping the cocoon

Lizzie's big bust

Lizzie's big bust

Catherine's corrugated legs

Catherine's corrugated legs

Johnathan testing the limits

Jonathan testing the limits

Maggie crawling to the cocoon

Maggie crawling to the cocoon

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