The Role of the Body 2014

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File:Beatrice DesigningForSocialBodies.pdf

Back to the body, the missed road of HCI

Since the 80's in the field of HCI the attention in designing computerised systems has shift from a first paradigm emphasising “the design for the machine” toward a second paradigm growing attention for the cognitive aspects of human activities and a structured design principally informed by quantitative research methods and generalising laboratory experiments, until a nowadays primary focus on human factors, values and activities within a wider relational context. Computing is no more simple calculation but a medium of human activities, so the value frame of the design itself is reorganising around means and ends of a technology shaping the everyday life and around its the very place within the HCI frame expanded toward more human-centered directions. Already back in the '70 pioneers as Myron Krueger established the figure of artist technologist and emphasised the user physical engagement and the direct interaction, while later in the '90, Hiroshi Ishii and the Tangible Media Group merged form and computation in a post-WIMP style, witnessing a better understanding of physical and social aspects of HCI.

Myron Krueger - Videoplace, Responsive Environment, 1972-1990s

Approaches such as Scandinavian Participatory design and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) strengthen the view of a technology as support for competent human actors' skill sets enhancing the shift from design of interface to design of 'interspaces' dynamically constituted by complex webs of interactions.

Participatory design

Contemporary tangible and embodied interaction practices in HCI born highlight the rediscovery of the importance of the body across several disciplines ranging from philosophy, cognitive science, anthropology and design. TEI (tangible and embodied interaction) disciplines draw wide attention on body movements, tangible manipulation and embodiment of data in physical augmented spaces and open questions about the effectiveness of the new computerized artifacts, on how they’ll affect us, our learning, behavior, reflection and perception of them and what might constitute the aesthetic of “movement interaction”.

7th International Conference in Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI'13)

Phenomenological approaches are now explored, playful and ambiguous methods drawing attention on the role of the performance to investigate the nature and aesthetic of human experience, the role of the body in space and relations between activities and values. The exploratory aspect of the actual research phase is not mature enough to fix theories but however very interesting to open discussions and considerations even on the meaning of the body itself.

Traffic Light Lets You Play Pong


Physicalities, intersection interaction!

The physicality of our bodies, of objects, physical world and space intersect in the interactive act. The multi-modal and double-sided aspects of the tactical sense act as anthropological and phenomenological reminders of our embodied human being condition and raise concerns on our western vision-centric perception and philosophies. The body is not only tactile, it has also kinaesthetic and proprioceptive aspects that contributes to the creation of meaning

1) about the sensory experience of moving while interacting with the system and

2) about how our interpretation of the space changes through the interaction itself.

“Movement and perception are tightly coupled. Since we interpret spatial qualities in relation to our own body, spatial relations attain psychological meaning. ” (Horneker, 2011)

Consideration of embodied interaction grounded and situated socially and culturally in everyday practice, furnishes the background for meaning creation, discovery and sharing and once more rebuts the Cartesian conception of humans as abstract cognitive entities. The tight relation between body and surrounding explains and suggests the contemporary shift of emphasis from design of interfaces to design of interaction as way of thinking the designed system as part of a larger ecology and located in a specific context.

Pedestri.Jam // connection/interaction in public space

The larger ecology of interaction design, participation and self-creation

Tom Davis analyses how personal and collective identities get dynamically constituted through the creation of meaning that arises from the relationships among agents of a performance ecosystem. Such relations, explain the above mentioned importance of collocating the design of interactive systems in a 'larger contextual ecology' and furthermore serve as metaphor for the dynamics of societal interactions.

In Chaosmosis Felix Guattari collocates the self as constantly pulled in different ontological direction, as in the television example at least in three ones: the screen fascinated, the narrative and context aware and the fantasmatic context of the daydreams. Furthermore he recognises that a subject self-creates and self-determinates in relation to 'co-evolutionary and structurally coupled' 'others' like elements of the environment including technological and cultural agents.

Considering the agentive role of the spectator in the response to the whole situation, Bourriaud notices that in relational aesthetic artworks, the aesthetic object consists in the relationship between the “bi-directional nature of the spectators’ participation” (as simultaneously agents and perceivers of the interactions) and the social context. The creation of meaning occurs collectively in in the situated relationship between the participants.

Rirkrit Tiravanija. Untitled (Free/Still). 1992/1995/2007/2011-. MoMA

Such attention for the performance ecosystem as assemblage of tools and related components with interpenetrating agency like the different performers, the practices and approaches, the environment and social context of participation, has been underpin clearly in the example of Bowers' consideration of music as practice in Improvised Machines (in the tradition of Dadaism, fluxus happenings, Cage's compositions and Beuys 'social sculpture')

Embodying the essence of being in the world as agents-perceivers in a process of dynamic discussion, inter-human negotiation and self-creation, such participative situated processes reflect the sociality of life itself, enabling resingularisation of the subjectification and reinforcing the conception of meaning created from social exchange.

For this reason performative practices are being reconsidered in the design of interaction, way more if the envisioned system has to be positioned in the realm of everyday life in the line of contemporary embedded and embodied systems.

Exploratory design strategies for social body's movement

“Real space is always inhabited and situated, becoming place. Over time, by inhabiting space, we appropriate it, interpret it, and give it further meaning. The relation is bidirectional. People might identify existing physical affordances for new uses of a given place (think of skateboarding and parcours), which then changes its meaning through the new (socially and culturally defined) use.” (Hornecker, 2011)

Brian House, Yellow Arrow

Art and humanities has been used as inspiration in designing for the complex aesthetic and emotional dimension of the human experience, often without regards about the mismatches that arise between such disciplines' theories, methodologies and conceptualizations and those characterizing HCI.

Examples are tactics borrowed from practices of cultural-political movements as the Situationist International. For almost sixteen years since the 1957, individualities connected with such movement, developed a politic of experimental practices to raise awareness about people agency in shaping the society structure, their active creativity and societal environment consciousness against persons' passive relegation to material well-being consumers of age of the (abundance) 'spectacle'.

Particular attention in the HCI environment received tactics as:

-The Dérive (random drifting walks through the physical space of the city) used in the psychogeographic exploration, usually resulted in maps as Debord's Naked City representing a landscape shaped by narratives and combinations of social, political and historical forces

“ In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there… But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities. ”

(Knabb, Ken, ed. (1995). Situationist International Anthology. Berkley: Bureau of Public Secrets.)

-The Detournement tactics were used to rearrange media elements to question given meanings and intervein in the status-quo supporting critical reflection.

-Psychogeography defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals."

As Asaro notices happened with the alteration of Scandinavian participatory design to fit the different political agenda of UCD, decontextualizing approaches bypassing their original political goals, and even more important, reifying tactics and methods in HCI practices, could reinforce the status quo rather than question it, dening the possibility for political diversity and closing, as Liam Bannon notices, the discussion around a better scientific and social progress that charachterise nowadays research not only in UCD field.

“Said the straight man to the late man

"Where have you been?"

I've been here and I've been there

And I've been in between”

King crimson, I talk to the wind, In the Court of the Crimson King

Activity suggestions

The activities are outside and tomorrow it will probably rain so BRING an UMBRELLA or a WATERPROOF jacket if you don't want to get wet!

References, suggested readings, websites, videos

Hornecker, E., (2011),The Role of Physicality in Tangible and Embodied Interactions, Let's get physical, March, 20

Davis, T. (2011), Towards a Relational Understanding of the Performance Ecosystem, Organized Sound, 16 (2),120-124.

Bannon, L.(2011), Reimagining HCI: Toward a More Human-Centered Perspective, Interactions, 18 (4), 50-57

Leahu, L., Thom-Santelli, J., Pederson, C, Sengers, P., (2008), 'Taming the Situationist Beast', Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, page 203-211.ACM.

Debord, Theory of the Dérive, on Bureau of Public Secrets

Chtcheglov, (1953), Formulary for a New Urbanism, on Bureau of Public Secrets

Debord, (1955), Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, on Bureau of Public Secrets

Debord & Wolman, (1956) A User’s Guide to Détournement, on Bureau of Public Secrets

Other Perspectives /// Discussions with Nicolas Bourriaud

The Role of the Body in Interactive Arts


My topic today is about the interactive body performance in relation to “The role of the body”. I am interested in all kinds of stage performance within exaggerated stages, flowery clothes as well as some funny accessories. Stage play is always classical and historical. I want to do the research on how the actors, their bodies interact with them. I hope there are some potential points to be unearthed, in terms of which, my final project will be beneficial.

Traditional performance is a wide concept including dance, opera, drama and so on, while interactive performance is more about the participation of your body with technology. To better understand the relationship between them, I will introduce the “Interactive art” first here.

Interactive Arts

Interactive art is a genre of art in which the viewers participate in some way by providing an input in order to determine the outcome. Unlike traditional art forms wherein the interaction of the spectator is merely a mental event, interactivity allows for various types of navigation, assembly, and/or contribution to an artwork, which goes far beyond purely psychological activity. Interactivity as a medium produces meaning.

Boundary Functions in early 1998

Interactive Digital Art - 'rotary tumble'

Interactive art installations are generally computer-based and frequently rely on sensors, which gauge things such as temperature, motion, proximity, and other meteorological phenomena that the maker has programmed in order to elicit responses based on participant action. In interactive artworks, both the audience and the machine work together in dialogue in order to produce a completely unique artwork for each audience to observe.

How can technology transform the human body? – Lucy McRae Technology with biology (body’s insides)

Interactive wooden mirrors (body's outsides/movement)

Traditional arts - Hands Performance

Amazing hand shadow performance

Activity – Participation! We are all performers!

Task 1: Little Black is a naughty ostrich. One day, little Green gets a bite by Black. He feels hurt and flies away.

Task 2: Little Yellow is a beautiful girl. One day, she comes across Green and they fall in love with each other.

Combining with technology/Interactive hands performance

In traditional theatre, performance is limited to a designated stage area and the action of the play unfolds without any interplay with audience members, who function as passive observers. Conversely, interactive performance may happen amidst audience members, and often involves the audience in more active roles, and somehow, may technologically interact with the stage.

Live body performance

As other classmates have presented so far, wearable computers are transforming our technological landscape by reshaping the heaving, bulky desktop computer into a lightweight, portable device that is accessible at any time. Such small computers, accompanies by a high-resolution private eye for display and by an input device, have already added an additional dimension to our five senses since they allow us to wear technology just as an element of our everyday clothing. Transmission of information through these media requires new authoring tools that are able to respond reliably not just to mouse point-and-click or drag-and-drop actions, but also to more natural full-body movements, hand gestures, facial expressions, object detection, and location.

Technical exploration - interactive mediums

Currently, most interactive arts and performances studios support the integration of interaction visual storytelling using C++ toolkits, HTML5, IOS, Android and Arduino development based on varied sensors. I will introduce two creative mediums that are suitable to play the role of connecting arts with technology.

- Interactive Gloves (with sensors inside) Wireless Inertial Arduino Data Glove

There is also a website that collect all the creative gloves projects.

- Leap Motion (best way to capture your hands movements)

Future issues

Interactive arts that are applied in daily life:

It is easy to see its potential in many areas like education, business or entertainment. As far as I have done, participates are creatively engaged in arts. However, most interactive arts are displayed in form of digital image in the screen. The potential point that I am thinking about is that to make the tangible stuff alive. Imagine, what if a model of transformer in the mall can be controlled by your hands!

Entertainment time

Run the world – Beyonce


F. Sparacino, G. Davenport, A. Pentland (2000) Media in performance: Interactive spaces for dance, theater, circus and museum exhibits, IBM Interaction Journal, 39(3&4), available:

Fleischmann, Monika and Reinhard, Ulrike (2004). Digital Transformations - Media Art as at the Interface between Art, Science, Economy and Society, available:

T., Machover, P., Torpey and E., Jessop,


The Role of Body in Computer Control


Introduction I will talk about how human body interacts with computer. In computing, an input device is any peripheral (piece of computer hardware equipment) used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system such as a computer or other information appliance. Examples of input devices include keyboards, mouse, scanners, digital cameras, etc.


Switches: Hundreds of switches, on = 1, off = 0. Makes the basic computer language.

Punched tape: Punched tape or perforated paper tape is a form of data storage, consisting of a long strip of paper in which holes are punched to store data. Now effectively obsolete, it was widely used during much of the twentieth century for teleprinter communication, for input to computers of the 1950s and 1960s, and later as a storage medium for minicomputers and CNC machine tools.

Mouse: The trackball, a related pointing device, was invented as part of a post- World War II -era radar plotting system called Comprehensive Display System (CDS) by Ralph Benjamin when working for the British Royal Navy Scientific Service in 1946. Independently, Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) invented the first mouse prototype in 1963, [citation needed] with the assistance of his lead engineer Bill English.[9] They christened the device the mouse as early models had a cord attached to the rear part of the device looking like a tail and generally resembling the common mouse.

Keyboard: 1868, the typewriter was invented.https: // 1936, The D'vorak layout keyboard is also called the simplified keyboard. The layout of the keyboard puts the most frenquently used letters in the most accessible positions. 1956, The Massachusetts Institute of technology begins experimenting with direct keyboard inputting on computers. 1964, A popular mainframe computer system 360 was developed by I.B.M (International Business machines). I.B.M introduced specialized commands keys to the keyboard like esc, alt,ctrl,pause,break,SysRq.


With the rapidly developed technologies, we have more and more interact methods with computers.

Sound control: Siri, Google now

Gesture control: Leap Motion, kinect

Muscle control:

Leg and foot: walk in the virtual world

Haptic Sensory: nowadays, the user can use every sensory to interact with computer, such as vision, auditory (hearing). the following is interesting that the user can interact with computer by using their touch.

Nose: use smell to interact

Brain and eye: Hawking's wheelchair. Stephen Hawking is almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device. Ten years ago, he can move his left hand, so he can use some device similar to mouse to control his computer. Five years ago, His left hand was paralyzed, and other scientist developed the eyeball controlled device to help him use the computer.'s+wheelchair&safe=off


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