Kinesthetic interfacing with architecture
Sama, Matthew J.
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Architecture can be defined as the choreographic arrangement of space in relation to the moving body. Choreography within architecture can be understood in two ways: ergonomically and performatively. Ergonomic choreography is the technically managed kinetics of the human body within space. It aims to control movement in predictable and repeatable ways within the built environment in relation to a specific task. Performance choreography focuses on the kinesthetic experience (the sensations associated with movement) of the human body in space. In contrast, it aims to explore how the moving body "interacts" dynamically with architecture. Throughout the twentieth century, kinesthetics have undergone a conceptual evolution. Performance art of the 1960’s and 70’s challenged our understanding of how the body traverses space. Contemporary advancements in media technology have also addressed new possibilities for communicating and controlling the environment through motion tracking, artificial reality, virtual reality, augmented reality and body interfacing. This thesis will explore the possibilities of performance choreography for developing kinesthetic interfaces with architecture. Interface design, motion and gesture recognition technologies enable users to interact between the digital and physical environment and create a shift from an object-oriented human-computer relationship to a spatially defined construct. Coupled with the kinesthetic behaviors investigated in performance art, choreography within architecture is open to unprecedented possibilities through a diverse dialogue with its occupants. If architecture were to adopt the technologies and principles developed from kinesthetic interfacing, could it be situated as a more personal, customizable, real-time encounter between participant and the built environment (physical and detail)? How could the techniques of interface design provide tools for determining architectural function, form, and materiality? The thesis will develop a precedent research that will examine historical work on kinesthetics and architecture. It will ask what the properties are of kinesthetic interfaces with architecture. It will also conduct technical research on the potentials for interfacing through gesture recognition. Full scale models will be constructed to study interfacing systems that work with image processing and display. Technologies like webcams, video cameras, projectors, screens and sensors will be used to formulate new encounters between inhabitants and the spaces they occupy. The Investigation will also examine how these technologies have changed since surveillanceoriented works of the 1990’s to produce new human-computer relations. In addition, the computational processing of body kinesthetics through video and tools such as Processing, Arduino, and open platform software will be explored. Emerging technologies in the field of media studies will also be examined to gain knowledge about the future possibilities for interfacing with space. The thesis will investigate the potentials of kinesthetic relationships with architecture in order to develop new technical interfaces that can be used to interact with our environment. The thesis will result in working prototypes that allow the architect to design through responsive inhabitation, where experience facilitates form.