Project type: XR experience @ IAlab (http://www.interactivearchitecture.org)
Collaborators: Farid Akmal (Wearable maker), Tia Hockey (Dancer)
Exhibited: Ars Electronica (2018, Linz, AU), IAlab catapult (2019, London, UK), Best of animation @ Ars Electronica (2019, Linz, AU).
(Un)Balance is an interactive experience in XR (extended reality) inviting participants to play on the edge of stability. Virtual and physical tools are combined to create an alternative reality in which participants are provoked to break habitual movement patterns. (Un)Balance extends body awareness through augmenting and shifting the perception of one’s body and the surrounding world.
Where experiences in VR tend to primarily play of the visual sensory system, de-engaging participants from their own bodies, (un)Balance rethinks the design of immersive experiences by foregrounding the notion of embodiment. Here visual, touch and sound stimuli are combined to amplify body and world awareness and engage participants in an exploratory process.
(Un)Balance was developed at the Interactive Architecture Lab.
The XR experience interrogates human-space interactions to broaden our repertoire of movements. It draws upon somaesthetics theory which accentuates the aspect of bodily experience in aesthetics and spatial engagement and foregrounds the moving body as a malleable instrument through which we perceive the world.
It does so through four interwoven elements. Here analog and digital tools compliment each other.
The participant moves on a tilting platform, which pushes the sense of balance to its limits. Apparel worn on the torso augments sensations of shifting weight through moving and balancing and contributes haptic and auditory stimulation. Finally, a VR headset and a set of motion trackers placed on the participant’s body as well as the platform enable a virtual avatar and a virtual world to change in substance and gravity attraction in response to the participant’s movements.
In contrast to contemporary spatial contexts and interactions which tend to limit and control movement and place importance on efficiency, Un(Balance) imagines a world where interactions aim at training curiosity, exploration and awareness. Could this be a path to mindful design?