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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Íchni is a mixed-reality scenographic space that explores how complex, unpredictable movements can emerge in an interactive, physical-virtual system. Íchni emphasises how conscious awareness of movement affects actions and causes different negotiations of the material environment. The performance space consists of a series of playable sculptures and a projected digital overlay that makes visible the effects and propagations of the instantiated movements. This creates an affective feedback loop between body, movement, and space that invites unconventional actions.

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The physical, choreographic devices have simple geometries that invite performers to engage in various ways by pulling, pushing, rolling, grabbing. The instruments have sensors embedded that capture participants’ movements and translate these into visualisations projected onto a screen. The visualisations in turn aim to cue the body to move in certain ways. A behaviour-based approach is adopted by examining rudimentary relationships between inherent characteristics of movements and visuo-spatial elements. The smooth, oscillating sway of the seesaw sits in juxtaposition to the trajectory of the frame and the punctuated twangs of the elastic ropes.

The word íchni (traces) encapsulates the notion of movements and notational markings. Physical movements – usually fleeting – are captured as digital data and translated and visualised to heighten the awareness of actions. This affects the manner in which performers move through the generative environment. A self-orchestrated choreography emerges from the interaction between the physical and digital as performers progressively find complicities between the mechanics of their bodies, the instruments, and the environment. Íchni is thus conceived as another performer – an improvised performance between the body and its negotiation with the environment.


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The ‘Choreographic Devices’

The physical sculpture consists of tree different devices. Namely, a mobile frame that moves on rails, a semi-circular surface which operates as a seesaw and a field of vertical elastic strings. These devices capture bodily forces which are then translated into an alteration of the virtual environment. The virtual projections function as an output of the users’ movements; a motivation for them to explore and move.


The ‘Trace Library’

­ The virtual environment is constructed out of a trace library of the different experiences of each user through time. It is a vector field of forces that is malleable to changes by our physical movements.  The visitors are able to see only fragments of the virtual space, and as they navigate and experience the physical space, all the different sections of the trace library are presented to them.


Research Thesis





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