[iDC] iDC Digest, Vol 21, Issue 9

Mette Ramsgard Thomsen Mette.Thomsen at karch.dk
Wed Jul 5 12:18:26 EDT 2006

Hi all,
In the same vein as Jonah I wanted to introduce myself to the list as part
of the Architecture and Situated Technologies thread. I think this is a
really nice way of doing the show and tell bit and hope that I can better
idea of the space that we are constructing together like this.
I have been heading a small research centre in Denmark at the Royal Danish
Academy of Fine Arts for a year now. Having a background in architecture and
computer science I lived and worked in London before coming here to start up
the group. http://cita.karch.dk/
The projects we are doing here are based in ideas of interaction with
environments that somehow incorporate their own metabolisms of self-sensing
and self-reacting. Coming from a background in interaction (VE) my interest
has been to explore what happens if an environment Œlearns back¹, meaning
that rather than us stretching to incorporate new embodied practices, the
environment too can come to learn about our presence, our motility and the
indeterminacy that follows. The idea is bring about space as a learnt
condition that emerges through habit shaping.
As Jonah I am interested in a decentralized approach. Here, obviously
learning key lessons from Brooks, Frazer and even Pask, the idea is to
create a matrix of distributed low level computation working together to
generate internal behaviours, or metabolisms. The work therefore links
closely to robotics.
In Sea UnSea, undertaken with choreographer Carol Brown, I am exploring this
through a drawn space of projection. The dance-architecture is an encounter
between two sets of scored behaviours. Here, digital agents, Œseeing¹ the
performers through a camera interface, react to the performers learnt
(choreographed) movements. Audience are guided through the space by the
performers that know the movment scores and intersect or challenge the
emergent patterns. At times curiously following, at times evading,
transgressing, shifting stopping, they act and react creating a mutual score
which in turn results in a visual scape projected in to the performance
space. The idea space is constructed around an emergent ecology of shared
behaviours coming into being through the differentiation of actuation, or
agency. A core question is how behaviour comes about. How is habit shaped,
and how does habit come to calcify into form?
These ideas where explored in a symposium, Finding Fluid Form,  I organised
at University of Brighton last year. Here we invited a group of artists,
cognitive scientists, biologists, robotisists, choreographers and
architecture to talk about the idea of emergence of form.
Sea Unsea is a performed space, and as such it remains fluid taking its
temporal axees from dance. In a series of projects under the title Weaver I
am exploring the idea of a physical system, taking that idea space from the
drawn to the modeled, or perhaps the 1:1.
The Weaver projects look at textiles a technology for actuation. I am
working with knitter Toni Hicks and the University of Manchester on knitted
construction, looking at how these technologies allow for complex 3
dimensional surfaces that remain flexible allowing for state change. The
idea of textiles and actuation is really interesting for me as when knitting
(or felting, weaving etc) you are engaging with the making of the actual
material. This means that textiles can be seen as a technology of assemblage
rather than a fabric. I am now in the process of working on a installation
piece with artist Simon Lovind where the membrane is seen as a matrix for
computation. Using a conductive fabric we are looking at making the surface
to a large scale sensor, or antennae, so that the whole surface of the
installation can gain awareness of its inhabitation. Using air as a
structural system the idea is to allow the robotic membrane to breath
lifiting itself as a muscleŠ and that this adjusts or spasms as it is
Whereas the projects are very self-contained allowing perhaps for a
visitation rather than an actual inhabitation, I think the wider interest in
the idea of decentralisation or distribution and self-organisation is really
connected to an idea of urbanism. The idea of a sensor as that which picks
up on a particular dimension of a space (e.g. shifts in the magnetic field,
dark areas in the camera picture etc) is a monocular world view. However if
the city is a performed condition taking place through the multiple agents
or actors drawing their own territories, temporal and spatial, it is perhaps
through this monocular awareness that difference and contradiction can take
place while still sustaining an idea of a shared territory.
I am pretty much in production all summer ­ Sea Unsea is premiering in Dance
Umbrealla, London in mid Oct (just before) and the installation piece in
start November. At least the summer is beautiful hereŠ

More information about the iDC mailing list