Haptic Parameters

From an empirical perspective, the collected data driving the sound, vibration and light output, comprises the ‘intensity’ of touches laid upon the stone by people over time. The challenge was to transform this data by ‘softening’ the ways it is interpreted, focussing on the phenomenology of a stone that remembers, and not one that is an agent of surveillance. This sensed data becomes a dynamic curatorial tool; an instrument of memory, if you will, that shapes the expressions of the stone during its Dawn, Dusk and Night phases. Thinking about data as ‘soft’ and malleable, in the same way we might reminisce and channel our memories, led to the use of the data recordings of the haptic touches to express rich tapestries of community sounds.

Technological aspects of large-scale capacitance sensing had to be taken into account as part of the creative process. This ultimately shaped the interaction design of the stone. The proxemics of interaction, as far as electrical capacitance sensing allows, became a creative mini-brief within the project. Four haptic, near-field and almost intimate gestures – hovering, pensive taps, touching and embrace – emerged as the means with which one could activate the stone. The poetry and semiotics of physical action in connection to the feedback presented by the sculpture was meant to provide an easily-learned, yet hopefully complex, emergent interface.

The interactivity revealed complex audio and vibration tracks depending on how the stone was being touched. Community sounds were analysed and tagged with key properties – nominal tempo, average amplitude, frequency, affect. Hovering interactions were linked to community sounds and vibrations that are atmospheric, distant. Pensive taps ring out bright, percolating sounds and perhaps distant, tentative ones. Touching activates swelling responses in vibration texture and near-field community sounds, while embracing the stone or fully engaging the conductive strips bring the system into a state of saturation, where a strong vibrational pattern and immediate sounds of life and living in the community are delivered.

To avoid simplistic didactics of expressing vibration and sound samples according to a single, fixed particular affect or property, each element of the library of community sounds possesses multiple properties, each manually tagged, much in the same way our memories are subject to our own interpretation in a moment in time. As a key part of the nervous system of the Other, a base algorithm was developed to pick random samples from this library. Prior to the randomisation of samples, the algorithm pre-selects a smaller pool of community sounds based on their proximity, similarity (and dissimilarity) to one another, guided through the type of interactive gesture being detected. Here, we identify possible avenues for the nervous system to grow, by incorporating data analytics and machine learning as a means of upgrading the ‘personality’ of the artwork. Ultimately, the interactions project an experience where participants get drawn in, sense, learn, and possibly teach others about the sculptures interactive properties.


Mnemonic System


Network System Topology