Phenomenological Mapping - Ly Bang Nguyen + Zhuo Cheng Gu






ross mcleod + charles anderson + chuan khoo


The FEEDBACK studio engaged in the design and construction of feedback systems that mediated the relationship between architectural environments and their occupants. The studio explored the creation of new sensory relationships between people and place which build a sense of belonging to the larger community through the built environment. This investigation was animated by three conceptual concerns: site-specificity; sensory experience; and individuals’ connections to place. Students studied the psychological and social aspects of interaction and were involved in developing digital tools that translated human responses to the built environment into sensorial spatial effects.

The central concern of the studio involved the identification and understanding of modes of interaction and the subsequent development of feedback and translation devices that express, generate, materialise and embody attitudes, feelings, affects and dispositions as spatial and temporal atmospheres. To this end the students were introduced to a range of modes of interactive design. These included the analogue, the social and the digital; which were understood through the engagement with particular materials, techniques and technologies.

In this undertaking a thematic approach was taken to the identification of sensory input and outputs. Students were asked to consider how the ocular, aural, haptic and olfactory senses engage in the perception of our surroundings. They were asked to consider feedback loops; in which our physical interaction with objects and spaces triggered specific visual, aural, and kinetic effects which in turn prompt further human interaction.

Affective Gesture - Andreas Egatanto, Marco Chaisar, Ali Al Musawi



At the core of the studios concerns was an investigation into how people interact with their environment and how that interaction can foster a form of social expression. In order to address these issues the studio unpacked the ideas of people’s engagement with the physical world and how objects and spaces invite us to engage with them.

In ‘The Theory of Affordances’ James J. Gibson suggests that the world is perceived not only in terms of object shapes and spatial relationships but also in terms of possibilities for action (affordances) in which perception drives interaction. An affordance exhibits the possibility of some action. While Donald Norman in ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ points out that our interpretation of and actions toward a particular object or spatial environment is not only shaped by physical capabilities but also by our particular goals, plans, values, beliefs and past experiences. Both theorists suggest that there are systems or ecologies of perceptions that shape our interactions with the world. That perceived affordance are relational rather than subjective or intrinsic.



The studio encouraged students to deepen their understanding of the potentials of interaction by investigating and exploring the historical, social and cultural aspects of the urban environment. This included understanding how people relate to the material environment, how they relate to other people and what immaterial elements might shape these relationships. This involved focussing on how spaces are organised and what happens in them. In these studies the student/observers were encouraged to use their own body as an ‘instrument of research’. In such auto-ethnographic approaches, the researcher attends to their own experience, one that acknowledges that ‘being and knowing cannot be easily separated’ (Longhurst et al 2008, 208). Such approaches also involved the observation of how other people use their bodies, how they move through space, what objects and materials they use and how.



These studies into the nature of our interaction with spaces and places was partnered with the familiarisation of Digital Technologies used in the creation of Interactive Art and Design. The students were introduced to the basics of electronic prototyping and digital media in order to experiment, iterate, and reflect upon the core concerns of the studio. Using a thematic approach to sensory input/outputs (ocular, aural, kinetic), the students tackled the creation of interactive systems by building on ‘black-boxed’ C code and prototype circuits using breadboards, microcontrollers and sensors. Students were expected, with guidance, to research and source sensors specific to project needs. As we were using WiFi-enabled microcontrollers, opportunities existed for students to explore rich loops and mappings between real-world sensing, and that of the internet.


Affective Gestures - Nicholas Perillo, Jessica Novia, Sophia Horomidisllo



The next phase of the project asked students to synthesise these different approaches toward the production of interactive spatial designs by producing a site specific sensory feedback installation within the RMIT Design Hub. In this undertaking they needed to consider the physical conditions of the site and look for opportunities in which its sensorial potentials can be focused and amplified. With these concerns in mind the students worked in groups to develop digital artefacts that would engage with an audience’s physical interaction and which would trigger specific visual, aural and kinetic effects within the space.

To aid in this conceptual thinking the students were asked to develop a form of recording and documentation of the sensorial qualities of the space. These studies included: the dynamics of airflow and the potentials of aroma within the space, the circulation and movement patterns of the spaces occupants, the resonant and acoustic properties of the space, the spatial and perspectival qualities such as vertical height and horizontal vistas, the intimacy of corners or the grandeur of vast spaces, the optical and illusionistic potential of the pattern of wall surfaces and the familiarisation of the darkness and light within the space



From the lessons learnt from the phenomenological mapping the students produced diagrams and user experience storyboards of the interactions they wished to engender between the audience and their installation. They were encouraged to think about the siting of their work in relation to the physical presence and orientation of people. They sought to engender a ‘feedback loop’ within the work in which the audience’s interaction with the device produced a particular output and sensorial quality which in turn made the audience react again. In developing the project they considered how the design responded to the sensorial qualities of the space, how it enhanced the audiences appreciation of the space and their relationship to it, and how it elicited an emotional response in the audience and in turn fostered a behavioural change.


Affective Gesture - Johanna Quinn, Zicong Guan, Shuang Yang

Affective Gesture - Ly Bang Nguyen + Zhuo Cheng Gu




As a culmination of the semesters studies the students were asked to turn their developing expertise in interactive design installations towards a larger proposal for a public urban space for the City of Casey, the Selandra Rise Community Center Forecourt. The City of Casey project was an actual public arts commission that the interdisciplinary research group, Augmented Landscapes Laboratory (ALL), had been asked to design and install. As part of the development process of the project, ALL proposed that the student group develop concepts for the space and present them to the project team at Casey Council. The student designs and the ideas that form them were then to be considered by the council and would ultimately contribute to the approach taken toward the final design. With this scenario in mind each group developed both a design proposal and a creative methodology toward the design of interactive public space. The designs and their presentation were intended to both educate and inspire the council as to the potentials of interactive design in the public realm.

From the initial meetings with Casey Council a working brief was developed. The council identified the following issues that it would like the design to address.

The proposal needed to:

• Be an experiential outcome

• Have a poetic quality

• Have both physical and ephemeral attributes

• Be able to be appreciated 24 hours a day

• Promote place-making

• Tie in to the local community

• Have a robust longevity (both physically, digitally and conceptually)

• Integrate with the site, building and landscape architecture

• Address the environmental issues of site and building

• Foster community engagement

Over a number of weeks the students developed their familiarisation with the site and the community, gathering information on compelling precedents and developing an approach to the brief.From this gathering of background information around the project each group generated a reverse brief for the project that outlined the group’s individual interpretation of the site and the community it services. Ultimately the students sought to marry these understandings with their specific knowledge of interactive design in order to develop a scuptural spatial experience which would deeply resonate with the community of Selandra Rise.



Augmented Landscape - Johanna Quinn, Zicong Guan, Shuang Yang


Augmented Landscape - Ly Bang Nguyen + Zhuo Cheng Gu


Augmented Landscape - Kiu Yong Jing + Rui Yang Gou



Students: Alexander Tatoulis, Ka Mun Wong, Tayla Farrugia, Prakash Kumar Rajendran, Amy Gibson, Zeb Clarke, Johanna Quinn, Zicong Guan, Shuang Yang, Ana Davila Veytia, Emma Wong, Akira Ode-Smith, Nicholas Perillo, Jessica Novia, Sophia Horomidis, Meegan Barone, Silvana Markas, Tien Minh Tran, Caroline Frey, Veroni Jayatillake, Ge Yang, Ly Bang Nguyen, Zhuo Cheng Gu, Kayla-Marie Pannuzzo, Thi Minh Trang Nguyen, Samuel Burns, Kate Ferrari, Darcy Bell, Kiu Yong Jing, Rui Yang Gou, Andreas Egatanto, Marco Chaisar, Ali Al Musawi, David Forge