The dynamic moving body remains an under-represented resource for the design of interactive body-centric elements and systems, yet our bodies are not just capable of movement, their fundamental state is dynamic. Swing That Thing… places our bodies’ dynamic potential at the centre of an inquiry into how technology might be paired with the body to poeticise experience (and what this might mean). By extending the body mechanically, gesturally and sensorially I aim to better understand:
- how to incite people to move and extend themselves physically
- the value of a direct consideration of the body’s tendencies and affordances when pairing technology with the body
- the value of visceral experience and full-body, or ‘beyond limb- and digit-triggered’ interaction
- the idiosyncratic nature of relationships to the body, and the body and technology
- how to provoke, incite or inspire reflection about these relationships through the creation, presentation, observation and use of wearable, interactive elements and systems.
Aims & Objectives
The investigation is practice-based, so knowledge is embedded as much in artefact as it is in the accompanying theoretical discourse. The research involves the design, construction, evaluation and presentation of a range of wearable interfaces, as well as presentation and discussion of the research process. Projects to date include highly visible, extended and extending interfaces through to “invisible”, embedded and distributed systems, which allow the wearer to actuate and control changes in sound, colour, light, vibration, shape and form. Current applications include presentation in art, design and performance contexts, as well as exhibitions allowing public interaction and physical engagement. Broader applications in health, disability and learning are also being investigated.
The research is motivated by the belief that a poetic approach can enhance feelings generated in the wearer or viewer of a technologically augmented garment or wearable artefact in a positive way, and that this is a good thing. The aim is not to arrive at a methodology for generating poetic work in this genre, rather to increase our understanding of what might constitute a poetic experience, and the roles played by the different elements that are necessary to the conception, design and construction of wearable, interactive elements and systems. To explore these ideas I am examining the role and impact of the following factors:
- interface (extended/extending, abstracted/abstracting, subtle/embedded)
- interference (where does the attention lie? can this be affected?)
- extension (gestural, sensorial, mechanical/tangible)
- output (modality / complexity of mapping / complexity of output)
Associated projects provoke and support playfulness and personal expression, while prompting a reevaluation of the body, body-centric technology, and appropriate ways that they might be paired. The suggestion is that placing the dynamic, moving body and our idiosyncratic needs and desires at the centre of body-centric research can lead us to more appropriate, value-added, human-centric outcomes.
This research increased understanding of what might constitute a poetic experience, and the roles played by the different elements that are necessary to the conception, design and construction of physically engaging wearable artefacts and other interactive body-centric elements and systems, with particular reference to the body’s capacity for movement. It also raised awareness of why a poetic approach might be important when pairing technology with the body in any context. In addition, a number of technical contributions were made.