In Transit: Sensorium Gymnasium

Here’s a summary of developments so far by Catherine and me for our explorations at Sydney Performance Space, July/August 2009

Research Question:

How do we stay in touch with who we are in essence, at the level of the body, when we are using/interacting with technology?


Along the continuum of travelling between worlds indifferent, imagined & emergent, we are in transit.


“Travellers” have entered the “Sensorium Gymnasium” (SG) via the “Living Room” space where they learn about our (proposed) “Awareness Through Movement/thinking through the body”/mp3 player/voice guided journey” through the SG.

Travellers, tuned in to their mp3 player, leave their personal belongings safely in the “Living Room” and are free to interact with all or any of the SG’s various installations.

The sound track through the mp3 player is a sequence of mini Feldenkrais “Awareness Through Movement” explorations that will draw attention to the felt experience of the body and to the question of “how we stay in touch with who we are in essence, at the level of the body, when we are using / interacting with technology?”. Long gaps between voice-cued mini explorations allow for ease of participating in all that the SG has to offer. The content and timing of the mp3 soundtrack can be refined during our workshop days together. Catherine and I are currently working together to develop the basis before then.

As we’re imaging the SG, we see the Video-Cued Recall (VCR) installation as the finale, an exit point. Prior to that, we imagine the “Transit Lounge”, which can be as simple as 6 chairs lined up in a row. The mp3 soundtrack provides the instruction for what to do in each chair (See below). The traveller begins in chair #1 & goes through the 6 transit processes, then moves into the VCR booth for #7 (The Telling Wave).

If there can/is to be a sensor data component that can reflect in visual and/or sound scape the variations of movement quality in the 6 lounges, fantastic! For example, can there be a generative screen in front of the 6 chairs that can be experienced by other travellers from the other side?

IN TRANSIT: (experience is the test of reality)

Transit Lounges:

1. The responsive wave

I am waving just to get someone’s attention: automatic, external aim, achieves end, attention seeking; time is compressed

2. The conscious wave

I am waving; I am a body waving in time; change of context; there has been a pre-wave influence (an imagined experience of my body/myself waving); there is reflection through the body’s experience

3. The attentive wave

I am noticing how I am waving; I am attention; my wave is embodied; time is elongated

4. The passive wave

I am feeling my arm being moved through the waving pathway; unbound experience through the body (in relation to the body of another).

5. The integrated wave

I am feeling the sensation of my arm, my whole body, myself waving; I am waving for the experience of waving

6. The double feedback wave

I am joined with another person; we wave; shared experience (in response to one another, waving as one)

7. The telling wave

Reflective wave; considered experience; video-cued recall

EMERGENT: (aesthetic experience is the judge)


  1. Hi all,
    Just wondering how many mp3 players we’d need to do this? Assuming we’re doing a sound track for many (if not all the other activities), how many players do you think we’d need all up?

    Each activity could be a track, and participants advance through the session track-by-track?

  2. M and C!

    Your “living room” induction idea fits in with my own plans for the space – i’ll do a separate post on that in a minute and you’ll see what I mean.

    I like the idea of the 6 “lounges” – how to signal those different lounges will be interesting. If it’s chairs, should they be very different kinds of chair (we could go to an op shop and find an array). I like the idea of some kind of sensor feedback that picks up on the different kinds of movement – but (as you suggest) feeds it to others in the room rather than back to the participant themselves… could be sound or light.

    All these things can be played with in the space.

    I love the idea of the mp3 player guided experience too. We’ll have to think more about how we facilitate the last stage – i think that will have to have one of us helping the participant out.

    Do you guys envisage doing a soundtrack for other activities too or just for the 6 transit lounges? I couldn’t tell from this description.

    I guess that’s also something you could work out in the space. The answer to that makes a big difference to George’s question. If it’s just the transit lounges then i reckon 2 is probably enough.

  3. maggie

    G & L!
    As I envisaged the SG as a whole, I’d imagined that the mp3 soundtrack would somehow relate to its entirety, bringing the participant constantly back to the body (which, without reminder is inevitably lost to the intentional experience, as attention is drawn outward to one thing or another). In that case, basically every participant (who’d be happy to use the device) would need one. The question is what else is going on in the SG involving sound?? I agree that there’s a lot of “playing” to do to find fusion & an overall unified experience.

  4. maggie

    Lizzie – In response to your idea about the “very different kinds of chairs”, C & I have been pondering, & although it’d be fun to go op shopping, we’re thinking actually the chairs need to be simple & the same.
    And yes – there needs to be someone there to interact with the traveller at(#4); two chairs facing for the duo in (#6); & a guide/facilitator for the VCR (#7).
    Also, we’re very much hoping that a continuous soundtrack provided by the mp3 is a real potential, providing the (body-centred) thread that links all of the SG’s experiences …

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