The Body as Instrument


Week 3: January 28 – February 3

The mediated transformation of the body, the man-machine dialectic, the cybernetic organism (cyborg), and the use of wearables, textiles, electronics, and sensors to engage with and manipulate the persona. Presentation and discussion of existing examples and projects of wearables recontextualizing biomimicry: the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Discussion of body ergonomics, and wear ability, body shape, human movement, and comfort. Setup and review Adobe Connect Web-conferencing.


Due Next Week: February 4

1 – Readings

Wearable Kinesthetic Systems, Alessandro Tognetti, Federico Lorussi, Mario Tesconi, Raphael Bartalesi, Giuseppe Zupone, Danilo De Rossi (2005)

This paper deals with the design, the development and the realization of sensing
garments, from the characterization of innovative comfortable
and spreadable sensors to the methodologies employed to gather
information on posture and movement.

Wearable Electronics and Smart Textiles: A Critical Review, Matteo Stoppa and Alessandro Chiolerio (2014)

This review focuses on recent advances in the field of Smart Textiles and pays particular attention to the materials and their manufacturing process. Each technique shows advantages and disadvantages and our aim is to highlight a possible trade off between flexibility, ergonomics, low power consumption, integration and eventually autonomy.

2 – Research Critique: Sensing Garments & Smart Textiles

Write an approximately 400 word summary of the two readings (200 words each), synthesizing how each essay discusses the creation of garments and they employ new materials, textiles, and technologies.

Here are additional instructions for the research critique:

  • Create a new post on your OSS site
  • Write approximately 400 words to concisely summarize the readings
  • Document your research with relevant hyperlinks, images, video, and other media
  • Add a featured image
  • Apply the “Research” category
  • Apply appropriate tags
  • Post a comment on at least one other research post prior to the following class



Setup Adobe Connect (Randall)

Connect_Screenshot 2014-02-11 07.10.28

Adobe Connect Virtual Classroom:

For the next 3 classes we will use Adobe Connect for our virtual classroom environment. I am asking everyone checkout a  headset (or use your own) in order to maintain the best quality input/output. Adobe Connect provides the third space environment that allows us to examine the creative possibilities of the medium, and to critically reflect on our networked lives and connections. Beginning in Week 5 we will explore the concept of the third space in depth, using the medium for class, reviewing several artworks that could only be possible in a networked environment.

It is critical that we have a solid understanding of Adobe Connect to maximize its effectiveness as a virtual space for class, presentations, and creative work. We will go through the logging in process and review the various components of Connect.

  • Adobe Connect Connection Test and be sure you have the Flash Player and Connect Add-in installed.
  • Access, type your name in the Guest field, and click on “Enter.”
  • Audio-Visual test of camera and microphone, including the Audio Setup Wizard. Do before each session.
  • Review the Connect Room & Pods: video, presentation, chat, and links.
  • Check out headsets with the EQUIPMENT BOOKING USER GUIDE

What does it mean to “Touch” in the “Virtual Embrace:” can we touch across the third space? An exercise in Adobe Connect. Take a screenshot of the exercise, then write a new post discussing the sensation of touch in the third space. Create a new category called “Touch.” We will go over the review below of WordPress while doing this exercise.

OSS WordPress Review (Randall)

Screenshot 2016-01-25 12.34.19
  • Logging into WordPress (NTU ID and password)
  • Filling out your profile, creating an avatar, etc.
  • Using the editor to create a post with text, media
  • Embedding links
  • Embedding video
  • Creating and using categories and tags: “Research” and “Micro-project”
  • Design and the featured image
  • Menus and the round trip between the student and class site
  • Installing and using the tag cloud widget
  • Aggregating posts to the class site
  • Online discussion, critique, and social interaction through comments
  • OSS Announcements
  • Post notifications
  • Themes
  • Flickr Feed (uploading project imagery)
  • OSS Support

The Collective Body Micro-Project II

Screenshot 2016-01-28 09.00.31

We will review the results of the micro-project to discuss the idea of the collective narrative as told through a sequence of photographic images taken of our bodies in the media space. Some questions:

  • How does this project evoke the collective nature of social media?
  • What kinds of creative ideas does this project suggest?

OSS NTU Flickr Group Page

Review of our “Touch” Exploratory session

Here is an example of how the “Collective Body” idea is put into practice in our final project, “Touch”:


Additional images and thoughts on  “touch” in the virtual space:

The Body as Instrument (Randall)

Joan Joan, Vertical Roll (1972)


“In a startling collusion of form and content, Jonas constructs a theater of female identity by deconstructing representations of the female body and the technology of video. Using an interrupted electronic signal — or “vertical roll” — as a dynamic formal device, she dislocates space, re-framing and fracturing the image.”

Vertical Roll is a seminal work.The relentless vertical roll, which repeats throughout the tape, disrupts the image by exposing the medium’s materiality. Using her body as performance object and video as a theatrical construct, Jonas unveils a disjunctive self-portrait. As she performs in front of the camera — masked, wearing a feathered headdress, or costumed as a belly-dancer — her feet, torso, arms and legs appear as disembodied fragments. Subjected to the violence of the vertical roll and the scrutiny of the video mirror, these disjointed images of the body — including a photographic representation of a female nude — are even further abstracted and mediated. The incessantly jumping picture frame, with its repeating horizontal black bar, both confronts and distances the viewer, creating a tension between subjectivity and objectivity. The tape’s staccato, insistent visual rhythm is heightened by the regular, sharp crack of a spoon hitting a surface, which resounds as if Jonas were smacking the video equipment itself. In the tape’s final moments, Jonas confronts the viewer face-to-face in front of the aggressively rolling video screen, adding yet another spatial and metaphorical layer of fragmentation and self-reflection to this theatrical hall of mirrors.

Stelarc, Ping Body, (1993)


From Media Art Net: In Ping Body, Stelarc’s work is electronically linked through a performance website allowing the audience to remotely access, view and actuate Stelarc’s body via a computer-interfaced muscle-stimulation system based at the main performance site. During the Ping Body performances, what is being considered is a body moving not to the promptings of another body in another place, but rather to Internet activity itself – the body’s proprioception and musculature stimulated not by its internal nervous system but by the external ebb and flow of information. The Ping Body performances produce a powerful inversion of the usual interface of the body to the Net. Instead of collective bodies determining the operation of the Internet, collective Internet activity moves the body. The Internet becomes not merely a mode of information transmission, but also a transducer, effecting physical action.

Eva and Franco Mattes, No Fun (2010)

No Fun is the edited video of an online performance in which we simulated a suicide and filmed viewers’ reactions. It is staged on a popular website that pairs random people from around the world for webcam-based conversations. Thousands watched him hanging from the ceiling, swinging slowly for hours, without knowing whether it was real or not. They unwittingly became the subject of the work. No Fun tries to create a situation of the most dire loneliness and affect, exaggerating the distance and lack of real engagement in online encounters, to slow down the endless social media flux with a moment of absolute reality.

Hakanaï by Adrien Mondot & Claire Bardainne

Hakanaï is a cutting-edge choreographic work that features a live solo dancer surrounded by a cubist landscape of moving digital images.

Wearables Recontextualizing Biomimicry (Galina)

We will review the research critiques discussing examples of biomimicry in fashion and wearables.

Preparation for the Electronics Workshop (Galina)


  • Two students are facing each other. One is with  closes their eyes. The other person touches them.
  • Where do you touch them? How do you touch them? For how long do you touch them?
  • After opening their eyes the person who has been touched describes the sensation of being touched. The feeling? The sensation? The apprehension? The comfort/discomfort?

An overview of next week’s Electronics Workshop and what we need to prepare.