This post describes how it began wearable_dynamics journey to develop tools to control machines and environments with spatial movement.
The movement of metaphors
Wearable_Dynamics vision is the application of technology to amplify the perception of the body and its senses, by integrating technology and movement to produce «the tendens to evocate and convocate the senses» while changing the point of view of the viewer. The company focus on 3D immersive spaces, in which electronic art combined with physical movement can generate tangible experiences which transform participants during the process of communication.
- On one side W_D develops interactive tools to feel, listen, measure and analyze the movement of the human body.
- On another applies these tools to develop future skins prototypes, aiming to enhance wearer’s senses, self awareness, and physical ability to communicate, express, feel and empathise with others.
Paola Tognazzi expertise lies in capturing, analyzing and filtering movement’ dynamics data to create interactive wearable systems that give the super power of making the body speak.
She believes that consciousness and enhancement occurs when the wearable feedback is interactive and clearly controlled by the wearer. To this end she devotes her research to wearables that do not just track heartbeats or put email on wrists, but that can enhance wearers listening and artistry expression.
To her, design means analizing the whole system of interconnection between the wearable, the structure of the body and the emotional sensual and dynamics desires driving users.
In her designs the purpose of technology is to enhance wearers ability to communicate and continue to move and engage with the world, physically, socially and emotionally.
During her journey she realized that, when adding the emotional to the sensual to the dynamic, technology enters the realm of erotics. Erotics connect body, mind and emotions and while incredibly powerful and energising when achieved, are also unstable, fleeting and subjective. While there are no fixed formulas to to achieve them, to neglect diversity is certainly a way to do not.
Since 2008 develops interactive electronic wearable, embedded with movement data capture sensors. Integrating electronics and 3D printing technology, she started to concentrate on the development of living systems to feel the movement and energy of the body on the skin. Systems capable of capturing the kinetic energy of the movement of the human body and transforming it into electrical energy that re-powers the body itself in real time.
The body is our machine, our interface to the world and we need to speak, listen and communicate with it, to tame it, know it and understand it.
Wearable_Dynamics: A silence that is not silent, listening to the intention of movement before it happens…by Paola Tognazzi Drake
Wearable_SuperNow allows wearers to connect with their bodies as well as the one of others.
The sound is modulated (in time and volume) according to the physical quality of the movements. This experience allows for practices that make profound, elaborate and “occult” possibilities of the body emerge, starting with direct and immediate results that encourage the user to play with the instrument/body.
The sensorial experience of having a superpower, making bodies speak, activates a process in which users learn to listen to their own bodies and engage in a dialogue with them. The way this technology is used and the stories it reveals construct a secret world in which the audience can move through.
WEARABLE_SUPERNOW origin context and motivation
1- With the increased integration of media technology and use of internet in our daily life, studies revealed an increase in cases of clinical depression, obesity, lack of physical exercise and injuries (neck-shoulder-hand). The human body is not designed for the postures imposed by the computer.
As people spend more time online and with communication tools, there is a decrease in direct human to human interaction which makes us forget important communication skills, which are prerequisite to our survival as a species – Balance, Proprioception, body movement, spatial navigation, body memory and instinctive response.
2- As to date user are still restricted to a computer interface that hasn’t changed much since 1968: a screen, a mouse, a keyboard. Ergonomic body interfaces seem to remain a low priority, even though recent developments in the gaming industry can contribute in that field.
3- As a choreographer used to work on a daily basis with musicians I noticed the absence of the body in the new electronic music compromised real communication and collaboration between dance and electronic music; such disembodiment should be bridged. Electronic musical instruments, can be intuitive and have more possibilities in providing a larger and freer spectrum of sounds, however, they don’t allow elaborate choices (control) or mastery, and neglect the body as a part of the learning process and composing.
In contrast the physicality of acoustic instruments implies training, rehearsals, repetitions and a very specific variety of sounds more alike dance.
As a reaction to these 3 factors I felt the urge to bring the attention back to the body and that’s how the development of Wearable_SuperNow a multi user interactive tool that allows bodies to speak and create narratives in movement arose.
Accelerometer sensors embedded in velcro bracelets capture the movements data and send it, via bluetooth, to the software PureData, which analyzes it and allow each sensor to activate and produce a different independent sound. The summing up of the audio layers that interact and dialogue with each other creates narratives and soundtracks in movement. The user can move freely in the space, modulating the quality of the soundʼs tempo and volume with the quality of his/her movements.
The interactivity of this tool stimulate users to develop physical awareness, listening of the body, and physical communication.
Space between body and instrument
Musical instruments are usually outside of the body, there is always a distance between the player and the instrument. The instrument without the active gestures of the player does not play by itself.
Osmosis versus synchronicity
By placing the sensors on the body, Wearable_SuperNow wants to break the distance-separation between body and instrument so that the body and the instrument become one. Once wore, even when the player is not consciously doing any gestures, by the mere fact that he is breathing, has to respond to the sounds that the instrument is doing. The uniqueness of this system is that it enhances player awareness that in alive systems there is always something happening. The performer is doing something even when he’s not. And this is the challenge he/she has to deal with by listening and connecting to his/her own body.
This journey within the body, of listening, self discovery and awareness is what I call a silence that is not silent, listening to the intention of movement before it happens.