Designing the aesthetic experience v0.1

In thinking through what I may be offering at the PSpace residency, I made a rough sketch of the elements to consider in designing the aesthetic experience.

  • Contextual activity, tasks, trajectory
  • Constraints, strategies
  • Attention – internal/external, diffuse/directed
  • Action – imagination/physical
  • Roles – performer, witness, aide, co-performer

My initial proposal is to develop a work requiring the interaction of 2 people, connected and constrained in different ways. What is it like to move in a fettered fashion? For one participant, their movement is assisted and constrained by a walking frame and extremely high heels. Part of the ritual is having the shoes put on and removed by the witness/aide. Perhaps one person is blindfolded or masked at certain points. The witness/aide gently directs the participant to explore various states of being, through the reading of scripted cues. Cues are for directing attention and generating movement and experiential qualities, perhaps the use of imagery and artefact. Should biofeedback or motion sensors be incorporated? What would their role be? Amplification/extension/distortion?

Production requirements:

  • high heeled shoes in a few sizes
  • walking frame – OTS or custom
  • motion sensors that can be attached to ankles and other body parts, eg. pelvis, head


  1. Lian
    What great images/scenarios. I love the idea of the aide, and the action task. Can you start sourcing some high heels? I imagine we could get some interesting ones from Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
    Re sensor placement – if the heels are sufficiently chunky (corkers?) we could insert the accelerometers inside them (hackout from Nintendo Wii’s?) – that would certainly capture some of the wobble!

    The image reminds me of some works by the American artist Rebeca Horn – powerful stuff.

  2. Musings over the role of the motion sensor … How to treat the data captured? residue or mark? feedback? translation? Is the data something the participant should be attending to? Or is it a trace of their activity?

    Thanks George for the Rebecca Horn ref – her work looks amazing.

  3. Hmm – interesting questions lian. These different ways of using data could be interesting things to experiment with in their own right in the space.

    Do you want to incorporate a mirror?
    I remember there being a discussion about how a full length mirror can change a performative/dress up scenario when you experimented with the body stocking at bundanon. I can bring one in if you like – could also be fun to think about having mirrors at different levels and in different places.

  4. Quoting Lizzie:
    “Hmm – interesting questions lian. These different ways of using data could be interesting things to experiment with in their own right in the space”.

    Yes I agree – I just imagined presenting the trace back to the participant as a distillation or genie ina bottle – weird – I know! This also connects to my interest in creating structres that offer participants a take-home ellement/memento – for my show at St. Vincent’s I’m going to try and offer a DVD recording of the video data that is generated during their interaction with the work.

    In relation to Lian’s high heels piece – I like the idea of generating a little artefact that has the quality of a cartoon animation – a miniature (thinking of Bachelard here) – that serves as not just a snap shot, but an intensification or exageration of some elements of their action within the work, and something they can share with their friends and familly later on, or incorporate into their various social-media personans (facebook, etc.).

    How about we schedule do some compare and contrast experiments with this in the space – Thursday and Friday – test on each other some combinations.

    Immediately this also raises the issue of some design tasks that the hardware folks among us could start thinking about – how to record this sensor information in ways that can be recalled, manipulated, condensed, slowed down etc. Garth… any thoughts on this – not sure if this connects in with the work you’ve been doing at VIPRE to record and map this data: on a related note, I’m looking for some sort of control interface for navigating recordings of sensor data like a time line interface on an audio recording application – scrub/scroll through the time series data to pick out details, and if attached to sonification system – listen to changes in data

  5. I like these memento ideas very much … they allow a continuation of the work outside of the immediate experience. Perhaps if the mementos are in digital format, then we can post-produce them and email them to participants later. Although animations are certainly not my forte.

    With the motion sensors, George you suggested hacking a Wii. What are the benefits of doing that, compared to buying some other motion sensor? Does the Wii come with an API?

  6. Wii’s are so popular because they are cheap – and there are loads of little plugs/patches to listen to them with software like, Processing, Max, PD etc.
    Their price and design makes it feasible to hack them open and embed them in other designs – and have a ready made set of tools for working with the data that’s coming out of them.

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