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Neoteny: A diary of documentation of my cross sensory relation exploration between body movement, posture and environmental context using bio-sensing

Neoteny: A diary of documentation of my cross sensory relation exploration between body movement, posture and environmental context using bio-sensing

Acknowledging and reflecting upon how the 21st century discourses that shape the notion of body extension, this design thesis presents a quantitative documented work in which a woman experiments with the possibility of amplifying her autobiographical memories by interposing her daily body movements and postures with external olfactory stimuli.

The main question of ‘How she exposes herself [1] to amplify her memories through a specific sensory modality,’ kickstarted a series of design explorations and experimentations on how design is used as a tool to heighten bodily self-consciousness (BSC) [2] with the environment. Primarily, the cross sensory relationship between body movements, postures [3] and environmental context using bio-sensing has been explored followed by the statement raised that “Everyone perceives differently –  experiences and memories are something very personalised.” This thesis imbues scientific strategies with personal documented narratives and emotional expressions.

The meaning of our body movements and postures are stored in our body unconsciously [4] in relation to our memories (learning history) and past experiences. Feedback loops from body movement and posture in the environment to herself has been explored (eg. the rapid adaptations of herself in the environment on memory for life events) followed by the question: “Which sensory modality is the most powerful one to achieve the goal?” and “How to create new associations between body movement, posture and a specific sensory modality through bio-sensing?” The study of the role of sensory extension can modify one’s perception and possibilities of transferring new learning into long term memory has been discussed in this thesis.

Sliding back and forth with the aim of making the data collected more deep-rooted and the unknowable quantifiable, this design thesis operates at the tension between her emotional and rational self. By investigating her body as a site, this design thesis raises questions on how she can create an immersive experience for herself by employing multiple sensory inputs and a wider range of feedback. A series of small design projects are created alongside this thesis writing and has also provided a series of speculative platform on future wearable and body extensions.

It is hypothesised that through the effect of Neoteny as a new body extension, Neoteny is able to amplify her memories by exposing herself to external olfactory stimuli with the built environment as a result. By creating a work that is simultaneously technological, functional and symbolically potent, it seeks to expand our notions of what is possible.


  • [1] Refers to a user’s body senses.
  • [2] Refers to awareness of own body and self understanding (Freud, 1915)
  • [3] Refers nonverbal communication which are used to convey information.
  • [4] All our past experiences and memories sit in the unconscious mind (Freud, 1915).

 

I have been systematically logging and documenting my daily life with and without Neoteny for the past 3 months. Through this period of time I have amplified my memories by expanding my capacity of remembering, which has been increased through the daily exercise with the device Neoteny. I have been documenting my daily experiences at the end of each day and allowing my data to be recorded and analysed during the experiment. The main idea of doing this is to compare my memories and experiences of each day with the written results of my mental images with my physiological data obtained through Electromyography (EMG) signals. Upon completion, I study the relationship between the two avenue of descriptions and representations. Neoteny aims to compare what my documented emotional expressions and narratives reveal, with what the machine reveals through its output. These two representations will eventually complete the bridge with one another after the analysis.

(Hui Sim Chan, 2018)

 

We move and sense through our body and that reflects who we are.
Eventually, our body is a collection of our past memories and experiences. [1]

 

Knowing that our body has long been a site of our life history, where our past memories and experiences were formed additionally through the interactions and connections of our five senses with environmental stimuli. If we were meant to start having experiences and memories since we were born, how would they shape us into who we are today? How much awareness do we still have or own to ourselves?

Human beings are known for taking their given five sense for granted. It is well into the 21st century while writing this design thesis, where human-technology relationship has been explored. The human of this century has not solely been exposed to body-related technologies [2]. The human-machine interactions (HMI) [3] have very much raised the possibility of having an external device as part of the extended cognition [4] (Clark and Chalmers, 1998).


Our body has become a vessel where systems and ideas are explored and manifested, it’s no longer just a body. [5]

 

Body extensions or prosthesis [6] with the integration of high-tech functions has been used as a means to amplify the senses to our body by enhancing a user’s physical ability or senses by accommodating the way humans already perform. This thesis will explore the use of human body as a site for future technologies by studying the existing use of prosthesis and its relation to the human perception whilst questioning the future possibility of introducing new body extensions in respect to the human needs (Antonelli, 2008).

So is it possible to design a body extension that are able to amplify human memories and experiences by challenging  our natural five human senses? How do we design and recreate a new body extension that is able to provide a translucent layer of information over to the human senses while at the same time not interrupting the user’s daily activities? To what extent can a  user have a subtle communication between the body and the environment based on this layer of information? It is speculated the human senses and reality will be challenged by the next generation of body extension or prosthesis.

Through the following pages, I:

1. present the discussion and arguments on the future of body extension and the technological context that motivated the creation of this work;

2. tracing the theoretical and philosophical frameworks to which this design work contributes;

3. explaining the design project technologically, and

4. describing the aesthetic decisions involved, together with the public acceptance (social aspects) in communicating this project as a new body extension.

Philosophically, I will be tracing technologies of bodily control as a main mechanism for this design thesis, referencing Foucault’s notion of bodies [7] whilst at the same time referring to Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway, to envision our body constantly being extended by devices and technology by positioning our body as an evolving entity (Haraway, n.d.). In the very famous read, The Extended Mind by Andy Clark and David Chalmers, they claimed that body extension are part of our extended mind (Clark and Chalmers, 1998).

In the second chapter of said book, the possibility of searching for autobiographical memory retrieval has been experimented and documented through a series of visual cues and a brief study of the relationship between human perception and body senses, with the effect of an external attachment during cognition processes (olfactory stimuli) followed by the exploration of the quantified data and digital information (EMG signals) recorded.

Technologically speaking, this project implements a human machine interface (HMI), where the electromyography signals (EMG) detected through muscle tensions are then translated into a micro controller to control the release of smells. This will be further discussed in the fourth chapter, alongside the quantified explorations and experiments that have been recorded while I am documenting my daily activities with the designed wearable, including how my experiences changes each day. This has demonstrated some of the emerging possibilities and consequences of the impact of Neoteny on me in relation to the environment, which leads to a speculative investigation of the future of the human body with body extensions. The primary objective of Neoteny is to compare personal perception [8] of smells related to my autobiographical memory subjectively with a quantitative analysis through Electromyography (EMG) signals in attempt to identify a bridge between these two dimensions.

The observations and experiences from these interactive set of work helps building up a better understanding and guideline managing the design logic of series of Neoteny. Neoteny has demonstrated the potential changes in the relationship between user and the environment in relations to such technology and has been used to speculate a future where attaching such devices become common. The design details will not be shown in this paper as it is still ongoing at the time when this thesis paper was submitted.


  • [1] Our body remembers who we are and how we are located in the environment. Our five senses help us to fuse our perception of self with the experience of the environment (Pallasmaa, 2014).
  • [2] Refers to digital information that has been stored, produced or projected through body-related technologies (eg: smart watch).
  • [3] Refers to design of technology, in particular, the interactions between human (users) and the machine.
  • [4] Cognition process can be extended by having an external attachment to human mind and body (Clark and Chalmers, 1998).
  • [5] In this context, our body is referred as a site of memories, experiences and the environment.
  • [6] Refers to attachment to the body.
  • [7] Foucault’s later works mentioned that in order for norms to be effective, they must first be experienced and embodied, whether this is a self-taught behaviour or discipline enforced upon oneself (Foucault, 1984).

2.0 Where does the mind stop & the rest of the world begin? 
(Clark and Chalmers, 1998)

2.1: The current attachment to the body, body extension

Both temporary or permanent attachment or addition to the body are defined as a body extension [1]. As much as we humans have been taking our five senses for granted, we are still born with insufficient capabilities, Le Corbusier argued (Corbusier, 1987) [2]. For example, the fact that we are not able to sense or experience distant environment [3] from ourselves has made our body as a site of  extended body related experimentations and explorations by scientists and artists. Body extensions or attachment has been proven to be able to expose the human body to more opportunities on the usage of it.

Artist Rebecca Horn demonstrated a new way of sensing the environment in her piece Finger Gloves [Figure 2.1]. During her performance, she uses her enormously long finger extensions to scratch both sides of the room at the same time. She challenged the limitation of original human body functionality and augment her body movements through extensions to re-experience the room. Finger Gloves is the extension of her body –  it extended her abilities and allowed her to experience what she had never experience before.[4]

On January 2018 in Japan, Kaiji Moriyama [5] collaborated with Yamaha Corporation  in an Artificial intelligence performance. Yamaha has provided an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system which enabled him to perform a musical piece through his body movements [Figure 2.2]. He has fully demonstrated the body-technology relationship by performing his personalised form of expression that fuses his body movements, posture and music (musical instrument: piano). Muscle tensions produced by his body during his dance performance has turned into a medium for him to extend his artistic expression and the technology adopted in the system becomes the focus during the performance. Signals generated by the different type of sensors attached to his back are able to identify his movement in real time through AI system. As he moves around, the music produced modifies according to the movement and muscle tension of his back. Muscle groups on his back were introduced as his medium for applying this intelligent layer of data of his body.

Our muscle tension often arises from unconscious muscle contraction, which makes it interesting to usher designers and artists in a new way of bio sensing (like Neoteny piece). Muscle tensions are able to introduce a new way of understanding the physiological data of our body through the way we move and position ourselves in the environment. Muscle groups in different parts of our body help us to sense and respond to the environment.

These attachments or body extensions made the user behave and move in weird and strange ways, but at the same time experiencing a heightened awareness of their bodies and the environment.

Figure 2.1 Captured photograph of the artist Rebecca Horn wearing her enormously long finger extensions – Finger Gloves, 1974.

Figure 2.2 Captured photograph of the dancer Kaiji Moriyama performing dance expressions in Japan, 2018.


  • [1] Body or sensory extension occurs when we extend the reach of our embodied mind beyond our own limitations (McLuhan, 1964).
  • [2] Humans do not have the natural ability to fight natural predators, withstand harsh weathers, and hunt or fight for food (Corbusier, 1987).
  • [3] Refers to built environment, the tangible or intangible such as physical objects, experiences and etc.
  • [4] “Just like the railroad opened up a new world, a new object can open up an uncharted territory. Let people inspire and mesmerise. Or like the telephone and television are extensions of ear, voice or touch (McLuhan, 1964).
  • [5] Refers to a Japanese dancer.

2.2: The Quantified Self

When I was in primary school, my teachers in school told me to write diaries at least once a week.

(Hui Sim Chan, 2018)

 

I am brought up in a family where everyone write diaries or journals daily, or at least once a week. This habit is embodied [1]. In today’s world, we come into contact with a range of quick evolving technologies and digital devices. Humans have slowly shifted from writing on paper to digital. We have learnt to adapt to new tools, to enable ourselves to do things and achieve complex goals with more effective and efficient ways. With that in mind, what about putting the notion of body extension into a technological context in this digital age?

It is well into the 21st century at the writing of this thesis, the amount of affordable consumer digital devices on the market has slowly pushes human to start using them. We have all learnt to make use of them as part of ourselves as our extension and attachment to our body. These digital devices are able to expand our incapabilities and allowed us to work upon ourselves (Lupton, 2013), leading us to walk into another new world with a better self. However, Merleau-Ponty argues that any external artefacts can become an extension of a live body to such a degree that the user has a heightened awareness of its existence as it was part of the body (Merleau-Ponty, 1945). Humans have learnt how to quantify self-movement with digital devices such as smart watches [2], and smart phones.

Digital devices allow wearers to keep track of inaccessible visible information such as body physiological data or even as part of our external memories to store photos, contact numbers and other relevant information [3]. Wearable devices have been changing the way we move and the way we think about our lifestyle; for example, smart watches are slowly changing the way I exercise. The data stored are information that we may not necessarily need but retrievable at any point of time. As Andy Clark and David Chalmers commented, body extensions are part of our extended mind, and have become part of our identities (Clark and Chalmers, 1998). Technology is our new body part and data is our new perception.

Pekko Vehvilainen has been quantifying himself with 11 different digital devices and platforms in the past, see [Figure 2.3]. He used them to record his physiological data such as body fats, heart rate, sleep patterns and his daily physical activities [4]. Digital devices or wearables help give us awareness and insights into the invisible aspects of our life by heightening our bodily self consciousness (BSC). As Lupton commented, all of us want to be a better self each day and these technological devices are tools to mediate our perception of our body and the environment (Lupton, 2013).

Figure 2.3: The most quantified man in Finland, Pokko Vehvilainen, 2014.

 

2.2.1: Communication between Body Movements, Postures and the Environment

It’s interesting enough to have a look at these body extensions and digital devices discussed in previous chapters; how they create communication with our body. Haptic responses are the most widely used tactile feedback on digital devices (eg: vibrations). We have been exposed to haptic responses on daily life without realising it. For example, peeping into the closest portable digital devices around us like mobile phones, they are all designed with haptic responses. We get different vibration patterns and rhythms when we receive different notifications on our smart phones [5]. It is usually activated when our phone is on silent, or when our sights are away from our phone, strange enough that we are able to process the information. According to Wigley’s statement in 2010, devices are able to affect our perceptions before, during and after the usage (Wigley, 2010).

 

I went on an exploration in a group by quantifying my own heart rate walking past places in London, my heart rate changes when the environment changes, I wonder why? Is that the only data I could’ve gotten from my body? Or is my body trying to convey messages to me in a different way through different physiological data?

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 06)
(Appendix A.1)

 

I have had my heart rate recorded at every different spot on the streets and in different environments. Tracing back to  a video recorded while I was walking, I realised that my speed of walking and the way I oriented my body differed when the environment changes. I walked faster passing through alleys, I don’t stand comfortably next to a very busy street, I can’t walk slower passing through crowds and I tend to walk slower in a place with less cars and more open spaces – these have all got to do with my body movement and posture.

Digital devices have been quantifying our physiological data such as heartbeat, sweat and etc, but what about muscle tension? I am intrigued by how our body movement and posture are able to introduce us to a new way of understanding our physiological data and how they are trying to communicate with us by trying to understand the information created by its spatial position. The question raised here is “Are we aware of our own body movement and posture, all these unconscious movements?” and also how do we gain awareness [6] through our own body movement and posture to enhance our ownership in interaction with the environment and our physiological data.

Could this then usher us into a new era of wearable body extension that monitor not just the number of steps a person takes, or the heart rate, but what about the muscles tension triggered during our daily movements?


  • [1] “Habit expresses the power we have of dilating our being in the world, or of altering our existence through incorporating new instruments” (Merleau-Ponty,2012).
  • [2] Refers to digital devices such as Apple Watch or fit bit that enable user to monitor their physiological data (eg: heart rate, steps walked).
  • [3] Refers to our phone, external hard disc, laptops etc.
  • [4] During the his interview, he commented: ‘I want to improve myself. I want to know where I am and where ‘I am going’… He rolls up the sleeve of his t-shirt and points at the body analyser strapped around his arm. ‘The device has taught me how to exercise and eat right,’ he says… ‘Without the equipment and measurements I couldn’t have reached my goals as easily’ (Heikkinen and Teivanen, 2014).
  • [5] For example, longer vibration for phone call, shorter vibration for messages.
  • [6] Refers to the process of understanding and conducting information between our body and the environment.

2.3: Introducing Neoteny I

As discussed in previous chapters, touch have been stimulating our body through external devices with haptic technology – a similar technique has been experimented on Neoteny I [1]. This aims to explore and have better understanding of my own physical body targeting on tactile feedback on my body, how I will be able to learn, study and process information from vibration patterns and rhythms.

Neoteny I is designed with this system: muscle sensors input, vibration motors output. Both muscle sensors were attached onto deltoids (shoulder) and quadriceps (thigh) respectively, and vibration motors on the back. It was then actuated by the muscle tension. I conducted this experiment by wearing it on myself for a week, 3 hours per day respectively. See [Figure2.4], [Figure2.5], [Figure 2.6] and [Figure 2.7].

Figure 2.4; Muscle sensors input on deltoids (shoulder) and quadriceps (thigh). Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

Figure 2.5; Vibration motors output on the back. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

 

The observations and documentations have been recorded in three different stages, see [Figure2.8]: before, during and after Neoteny I usage. This aims to compare the effect on the user (Wigley, 2001). As predicted that an external wearable devices are able to affect our perception of our body and the environment by heightening our BSC (Wigley, 2010). Results have shown that my body was adapted to the effect after one week of training exercises and perceptions of the environment and my own body has been altered.

 

I never thought that I will ever move this much in my life, having the opportunity to be able to explore different ways of navigating my body in space, for example, different ways of walking up the slope, which results in different way of walking (eg. Walking sideways like how crabs do).

(Hui Sim Chan, 2018)

 

Based on the observation during the first stage of the experiment (before usage), I paid more attention to my interactions with the environment in order to speculate the effect that I will be experiencing from Neoteny I. This initial step has heightened my BSC and awareness to the environment. The effect of the wearable was immediate, even before the experience.

The second stage of the experiment was to study the effect of prolong usage of Neoteny I attached to my body. It was uncomfortable in the beginning with the vibration effect on my back while I was moving around. It felt like a portable massage chair that was following me around. But the training exercise, my body got adapted to the effect and was actually trying out different way of moving and position my body in space in order to tackle the vibration patterns and rhythms effects from the wearable.

The last stage was then  investigated when Neoteny I was removed from my body. My attentions towards my own body has increased, especially targeting obvious muscle group activities (eg: contrast like running and walking, which results in different exerted muscle tension).

Figure 2.8 Neoteny I results: Author’s data records. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

 

Through this series of interactive experiments, Neoteny I brought me closer to my body. It has evolved with my body by allowing me to create a new form of behaviour, like Wigley’s statement, Neoteny I has gone beyond the extension of my body at the specific point of time (Wigley, 2010). I learnt to pay more attention to my body movement and posture in the environment. It’s proven that, based on Nagel et al.’s experiment [2] and Andy Clark and David Chalmers’s statement [3] that having a reliable coupling system between a technological devices and the wearer is crucial to be part of the extended cognition as it will be able to alter the perception of the user, and allow them to immerse in the whole new experience. The higher the sensitivity or awareness one has towards their body movement and posture while navigating themselves in the environment, the more immersive experience they will get from the wearable.

However, question on the data privacy has been raised, arguments such as how much data do we still own to ourselves [4], and the amount of control we still have between our body and body extension. These questions motivated me to explore further on different avenue: How can I design a subtle communication that are able to form a seamless connection with my mind through a new body extension? (This will be further discussed in part 2: autobiographical memory). So what can we expect from the next generation of wearable electronic devices?

Figure 2.6 Netony I device System Drawing. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

Figure 2.7 Neoteny I device Vibration Rhythms and Patterns. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.


  • [1] Neoteny is a mechanism of rapid adaptations to changing conditions.
  • [2] Refers to Augmentation belt used on wearer’s waist by navigating them in the environment through haptic feedbacks (vibrations) (Nagel et al.’s, 2005).
  • [3] “If the resource of my calculator  or my Filofax are always there when I need them, then they are coupled with me as reliably as we need” (Clark and Chalmers, 1998).
  • [4] Refers to data sharing between the user and the wearable.

3.0 Autobiographical Memory

“ My body, still too heavy with sleep to move, would endeavor to construe from the pattern to its tiredness the position of its various limbs, in order to deduce therefrom the direction of the wall, the location of the furniture, to piece together and give a name to the house in which it lay. Its memory, the composite memory of its ribs, its knees, its shoulder-blades, offered it a whole series of rooms in which it had at one time or another slept, while the unseen walls, shifting and adapting themselves to the shape of each successive room that it remembered, whirled round it in the dark. […] my body, would recall from each room in succession the style of the bed, the position of the doors, the angle at which the sunlight came in at the windows, whether there was a passage outside, what I had in mind when I wen to sleep and found there when I awoke.”
Marcel Proust
In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way
(Proust, 1996)

 

Figure 3.1 101 Nights. Nathalie Regard, Guillaume Dumas and Roberto Toro, 2017.

 

We brought up embodiment, experiences and autobiographical memory (AM) [1] in previous discussion, and how they make each of us an individual. This chapter aims to investigate and explore the effect of memories and experiences in shaping each of us and the methodology of memory retrieval, at the same time focusing on how interaction between autobiographical memory (AM) and emotions take place.

An artistic work and project – 101-nights by Guillaume Dumas and Roberto Toro developed an experimental protocol for sleep monitoring for artist Nathalie Regard, which aims to integrate her body in the study context. During the documentation of the artwork, her dreams have been electrically recorded using EEG signals and externally stimulated by auditory stimuli [2]. The influences of the stimulus in account of her dreams has been studied and then being compared to her personal dream memories logbook. [3]

The researchers were meant to find out the names that are able to enter her dreams by comparing the data recorded during her sleep and her written dream logs. No one was able to prove which names made it into enter her dreams except Nathalie herself because whatever she has experienced in her dreams belongs to her, it’s her own experiences and it is truly personalised.

 

3.1: Personalised Experiences, Autobiographical Memory, Emotions, Body Movement and Posture

Our body movement and posture also passes on emotions, for example, having a collapsed posture when depressed or to show interest by inclining our body forward. Within theory of metaphorical mental representation, Daniel Cassanto’s study strengthens the knowledge about memory retrieval within the embodied cognition concept. His research has provided evidence that our emotional memories interacts with our schematise motor actions (Cassanto, 2010). The tendency to associate the good and bad life experiences with schematic representation of the upward and downward motion was showcased within this experiment.

The emotional content of an experience can impact the way an event is recalled. Consequently, emotions and the emotional goals experienced at the time of an autobiographical recollection can also impact the way an information is remembered.

The question remains – how are the memories from previous experiences associate with the behaviour we perform with our bodies? As mentioned previously in this thesis, body movements and postures that are associated with optimistic or pessimistic emotional valence play a huge role on recovering emotional memories. For example, sitting erected or smiling highly influences the way people retrieve positive memories (Riskind, 1983). Similar to this, Lakoff suggested that a change in one’s body posture or movements can impact the way a person interacts with the environment and how they feel about one own’s performance [4] (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999).


  • [1] Refers to memory that encompasses our recollections of specific and personal events.
  • [2] Process of sending sounds of names of people she knows and she doesn’t know at random times during the night.
  • [3] Refers to process of her jotting down her dream memories and then compare that to the EEG signals to investigate names that are able to enter her dreams.
  • [4] This has also been discussed in TEDTalk with Amy Cuddy, she talked about how power posing are able to boost one’s self confidence.

 

Alleys have always been and still known as a dark, dangerous space for me since I was a child. My mom has always kept me away from crossing past alleys whenever I am alone, “It’s all for your own good, it’s dangerous,” she says. It wasn’t a forceful decision but I see the need to take it as a reminder, for my own safety.

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 06)
(Appendix A.1)

 

Day 4 of my anxiety attack. It was completely out of my control. I released anger at ones that’s closest to me without realising that I’ve just lost temper. Only when they told me. I remember clenching my fists firmly and started pushing everything away from the desk and stuffs around me, like a hungry beast.

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 41)
(Appendix A.2)

 

I came home stress, I can’t help myself but just started curling myself up in my bed and started crying. I felt so helpless and vulnerable. I failed to pull myself up that day. I miss home.

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 37)
(Appendix A.3)

 

My boyfriend is finally here in London. I miss him.
We cuddled each other to sleep last night, and I remember how much I love curling myself under his arm,
Weird enough, I like to smell his underarm.

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 67)
(Appendix A.4)

Shaun:

You can always find me sitting at my desk twirling through my hair whilst scrolling through Facebook on most of the days. I have always have that habit since high school and therefore I don’t often realise myself doing that. But that habit often changes during rare days that I slept over at my girlfriend’s house and took showers there. Those are the days when twirling few strands of my hair actually sends puffs of Sim’s L’Oreal shampoo towards my nose, it is almost impossible to not think about her while cuddling in bed.

I find it annoyingly cheesy yet romantic that smell of her shampoo makes me smile more than I would on a typical day, but I am well aware that I am definitely not the only person that fell into this romantic trap. In fact, people do believe that scent can connect you to your distant partner further – just like the guy who sent a woman he had never met online (refers to smell dating website) one of his t-shirt so that she could “familiarised herself with his smell”. Science backs us up in this case.

 

Figure 3.3 Napoleon and Josephine. Was Napoleon Right About Body Odour? 2017

 

3.2: Psychology: Autobiographical Memories & Emotions & Body Posture, Movement & Olfaction

 

I remember when I was doing my Bachelor back in Malaysia,
a friend of mine, she is an Indonesian, loved to hug and smell me,
just because I smell like airplane, which reminded her of her hometown. So I was her go to person to hug whenever she is having homesick.

(Hui Sim Chan, 2018)

 

The way we perceive the environment does not involve deliberate rational thinking, it is an unconscious act. The way we comprehend the world indirectly is by processing and elucidating raw data and our behaviour is more often that not, biased by our senses. (Kahneman, n.d.; Lobel, n.d.; Lynch, 2015; Mlodinow, 2013). There is a direct correlation within the olfactory bulb to the two areas of the brain that controls emotions and the memories – the amygdala and the hippocampus (Ravel and Mouly, 2015).

Smell. The sense of smell is unlike the other sensory modalities. Odours possess the ability to immediately and distinctively trigger strong emotional memories and thoughts. Compared to any other sensory stimuli, the odorous stimuli has the highest degree of memory retention. Even in its most basic and elemental form, odour involves limbic structures which is not synonymous to other sensory modalities. However, it is worth noting the relations within the limbic structures and the activation of the amygdala has the capability to elicit emotions and facilitate the encoding of memories.

Back in 19th century, it’s a tradition in Austria [1] that young women would keep an apple slice in their armpits while doing a ritual dance. At the end of the dance, the guy that she most fancied would receive the ‘soaked’ apple slice  and wolf it down if the feeling was mutual. Meanwhile in the 21st century, there is this website [2] that offers mail-order dating service. Then the participant will have to put the given shirt on for three days without any external chemicals (eg. Perfumes, lotions, deodorants etc.) for three days. Followed by sending the worn shirt back and pick your matches by smelling samples that they mailed back. In that way, you will be able to get matched with someone else through smelling their natural body odour without meeting them in person.

Austrian tradition of men eating the ‘stinky slice of apple’ from the fancied women just reminded me of the infamous letter written by Napoleon to his wife Josephine,

“I am coming home in 3 days, don’t wash.”

These practices from long time ago has proven that we all may have already developed a personal attraction to our partner’s body odour. On a romantic note, Napoleon knew that he would’ve missed her when she passed away, he planted violets at her grave, kept some with him by his side until the day he died [3]. It is the universal smell that evoke the mutual feelings of love and partnership they share until today.

It’s not shocking that I have the fetish of smelling my boyfriend’s unwashed sweatshirt, because that makes me feel as if I’m back in his arms again. Take “The Stinky Apple” as an example, I have no idea what intimate memory men has back then attached to underarm smells, while everyone often plugged their nose when it comes to smelly underarms (eg: smelly underarms in London Underground after one whole day of work). There is plenty of options and opportunities for our brain to be able to associate or re-link a particular smell with one or more emotions, which in this context, where relationships are often passionate and overflowed with emotions, whether if they make you feel comfortable or sad. As for Shaun, the smell of L’Oreal shampoo will never be the same.

The Proust phenomenon is the potential of odours to involuntarily invoke highly realistic, affectively toned and ancient autobiographical recollection (Chu & Downes, 2000) and is derived from the experiences of Proust himself (1922):

“And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of tea in which I had soaked a morsel of cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place… I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs.”

(Proust, 1922)

In a similar vein, I aim to use the language and tool of science and technology to make a provocation of how can we create a new rituals of remembering, and how do we expose users to amplify our memories through olfaction?

 

3.2.1: Olfaction as a new avenue of data visualization

Smelling smoke from a fire in time to leave a burning building.

While scent has been widely explored in Psychology, In the world of personal technologies, the olfactory system has been less valued albeit scent has been widely explored in the world of Psychology, Neuroscience, Chemistry and Art. It comes to no surprise that smell is an interesting sensory modality to use in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) as a sensory extension. These olfactory effects can play an important role in various training environments – like fire fighters and medical personnels (Washburn, Jones, Satya, Bowers, & Cortes, 2003).

As discussed in Chapter 2, current personal, wearable devices that’s used to quantify self movement, mostly make use of visual, auditory and the haptic stimuli. Possibilities of smell based technology has recently been explored by the HMI research community. The state of art in smell-enhanced technologies is mostly limited to non-portable and non-fashionable devices that cannot be comfortably used in everyday life situations.

However, the question here remains – could olfaction displays (devices that output scented air) augment human data visualisation, that is to communicate layer of information relevant to many fields (Loftin, 2003)?

Undeniably, adding sense of smell to virtual environment would create a more immersive environment by enhance the environment’s presence even more. One of the first examples of wearable using scent at an output that I encountered is a piece called the Smoke Dress by artist Anouk Wipprecht [4] [Figure 3.5], using smells to augment the wearer’s visual senses, another form of subtle data visualisation of people approaching or coming close to the user. It releases a cloud of smoke when it detects a person approaching. Next followed by the Swollable Parfum by Lucy McRae [5] [Figure 3.4]. Artists have explored the use of scent in fashion or using the body as an atomiser [6].

In a more practical and lifestyle related context, wearable eScent, explores the possibility of using smells to promote wellbeing and monitor our lifestyle and body health situations. They explores between body, mind, technology, science and fashion by embedding smells capsules under the wearable [7].

How often do we hear that: “ I smell my childhood or grandparents through the smell of cupboard?” Smells that often got associated with nostalgic memories.

 

It was one good summer holiday getaway to Sardegna, Italy. Beautiful seas, islands and Italy, land of good pastas and pizzas. We were very hungry hunting for really good pasta, I had desperate cravings for good linguine. Everywhere on the street I could smell smells of linguine, and I could imagine the taste lingering in my mouth. The last time I had this was 3 years ago back at Milan!

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 78)
(Appendix A.5)

 

Based on the ratings and content analysis of my memory, has again, shown evidence that smells are able to evoke autobiographical memories. Smelling the smell of the linguine on the street, without seeing it, but my brain has already painted linguine in my head, even me eating. I can hear the swallowing of my own saliva. I remember I was craving for it. And on top of that, I was starving. I was immersed in the smell.

Olfaction has the huge potential to be explored further as a new avenue for data visualisation to create an immersive experience for the user/wearer. Data from my experiences have shown unambiguous support for the Proust Phenomenon.


[1] Refers to the apple in ‘My’ armpit.

[2] Refers to https://smell.dating/.

[3] Both Napoleon and Josephine adored violets when they were alive.

[4] Anouk Wipprecht and Niccolo Casas. 2012. Smoke Dress. http://www.niccolocasas.com/SMOKE-DRESS/

[5] Lucy McRae. 2011. Swallowable Parfum. http://swallowableparfum.com

[6] Jenny Tillotson and Adeline. Andre. 2005. Smart Second Skin. University of the arts London. (2005). http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/5570/

[7] Refers to https://www.escent.ai/


Figure 3.4 Swollable Parfum, Lucy McRae, 2011.

Figure 3.5 The Smoke Dress, Anouk Wipprechts, 2012.

3.3: Neoteny II Motivation

I am motivated to explore the possibilities and pitfalls for this potential integration between theories of autobiographical memory (AM) and the embodied, extended mind. The idea was to take autobiographical memory (AM) as a test case for evaluating the optimistic vision of a new kind of cognitive science defended by Andy Clark, who had argued:

“ Much of what matters about human intelligence is hidden not in the brain, nor in the technology, but in the complex and iterated interactions and collaborations between the two… The study of these interaction spaces is not easy, and depends both on new multidisciplinary alliances and new forms of modelling and analysis. The pay-off, however, could be spectacular: nothing less than a new kind of cognitive scientific collaboration involving neuroscience, physiology, and social, cultural, and technological studies in about equal measure.”

(Clark, 2001, p.154)

The Extended Mind, Clark and Chalmers (1998) provisionally pondered on some possible case of “socially extended cognition” (Clark and Chalmers, 1998, pp. 17-18). Using memory as an example, memory pushes into more understandings on topic like personal developmental psychology, social psychology and universal empathy. Being able to share and exchange memories is not just our normal activity or habit, in fact, it is how we are able to revisit or renegotiate our own memories [1] – reorganising patterns between our autobiographical memory knowledge base and personal past experiences.

Looking back  the arguments brought up in chapter one, how is it by using this technique and methodology can create a subtle communication between body and environment, embodiment? So, how can we recall and retrieve our autobiographical memories? Modern day research suggests that by definition of new memory aspects as voluntary and involuntary memories, future and false memories (Bernsten & Jacobsen, 2008) can aid us to better describe the minutes of our autobiographical memory retrieval.

Traditionally, research in psychology focuses mainly on voluntary memories and states that the majority of our lives are recalled in a strictly voluntary way. In comparison, involuntary autobiographical memories can be triggered in everyday life without any conscious effort to bring back past memories. However, recent studies claims that the importance of involuntary autographical memories.

The study on the effects of tactile, olfactory, audio and visual sensory cues on one’s sense of presence, more specifically focusing on their memory of the environment and the objects in it has been studied by Chu and Downes (2000). In this study, participants were told to jot down their associated memories and experiences after being exposed to specific cues for a specific period of time. Citing the Scent Collar [2], see [Figure 3.6] developed by The institute for Creative Technologies [3] and AnthroTronix [4], they showcased how olfaction can be applied in virtual environments and how it contributes to the enhancement of the wearer’s presence within the environment – an immersive personalised experience for the wearer (Morie et al., 2003).

Figure 3.6: The Scent Collar, The Institute for Creative Technologies and AntrhoTronix, 2012.

Through the series of discussions, research and projects, it has open up the possibility for us to question and explore further with having olfactory system as part of the future technological wearable that has the potential to extend, deepen, widen or even sometimes, to be able to bring up inaccessible memory in our brain through smells.

A study conducted by Professor Maria Larsson [5] has also investigated the correlation between memory and smell. She commented that not every individuals are able to recall memories from different assortment of smells. In fact, she showed an interesting discovery on majority of the memories were associated to grandparents more than parents, smell is able to take people back to their early childhood whilst words and pictures are more associated to early adulthood or teenage. Referring to that, this suggests that our odour training takes place at very early stages of our lives. This hypothesis is backed up by a study involving expecting mothers where they were told to consume strong smelling food during pregnancy. Results shown that these offsprings has developed strong associations for the smell of food that their mother consumed when they were still pregnant. To conclude the study, smell is the least noticed yet the most pervasive form of all the senses.


  • [1] Refers to interpersonal context.
  • [2] The wireless olfactory display system is worn around the neck and is shown here with four cartridges.
  • [3] Refers to (ICT; www.ict.usc.edu/disp.php).
  • [4] Refers to www.anthrotronix.com
  • [5] Refers to a psychologist from the Stockholm University in Sweden.

4.0: Engineering the System

 

My most stressful week during the term:
I was too tired to move, too tired to think, Sleep is all I am asking for.
My back was too tired to hold myself to be sitting in front of my desk, changing spots doesn’t work.
I tried working on my bed but I fell asleep instantly. I tried with various sitting positions…

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 54)
(Appendix A.6)

I woke up to a massive migraine, traced back my Smart watch,
it shows that I only had 30 minutes of deep sleep….
[…] The rest of my day was horrible, it was unproductive,
Nothing works!

(ref. Sim’s Diary, Neoteny, Day 54)
(Appendix A.6)

[…]
Finally unboxed my Muji diffuser!
[…]

4.1: Overview

For all of the conceptual, artistic and intellectual reasons explained in previous pages, I am creating a wearable that amplifies our memories through olfaction. This system utilises bio sensing technology, which is described in further detail below. Electromyography (EMG) muscle sensors are used to detect muscle tensions from the shoulder (deltoids) and thigh (quadriceps), and these signals are then translated into commands for a micro controller. Through these commands, the micro controller triggers doses of scents from different capsules attached on the wearable.

The proposed project is a composition conceived to observe daily body movements and postures, then to stimulate them using simple olfactory mechanism. The core principal of this study is the universal understanding of two underlying spheres of knowledge between the record of quantified self movement and its experiences continually analysed over Neoteny. The physiological data recorded (EMG signals, muscle tension) and our behaviour shows desire for dialogue through the intimate connection between the user and Neoteny. This project is  attempting to fabricate a technology that people could use in their daily life, anytime they wish to without going through burdensome services such as seeking for medical assistance.

Figure 4.1: System diagram of Neoteny II. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

 

4.2: Association of smells and muscle tension

As much sleep was much needed and much craved for at that point of time, I struggled to sleep even. I couldn’t.
Sleeping with the diffuser I own helped me to sleep and relax more while working at the later stage…

(Hui Sim Chan, 2018)

My body movement and posture has been recorded. Refers to [Figure 4.2]. Of this series of self documentation, again the results shows that emotions do affect our body movement and posture, therefore leading to bad experiences (refer to chapter 3 discussions). Studies shows that the use of essential oils helps in counterbalancing the feeling of stress and anxiety (Redd et al., 1994; Diego et al., 1998). Not only has olfaction played a significant part in human learning and memory, the addition of an olfactory component to the environment can reduce stress, improve information processing, enhancing memory performance by means of problem solving, reducing response times, producing fewer errors, whilst increasing overall recognition, retention, productivity, alertness and physical performance (Washburn, Jones, Satya, Bowers, & Cortes, 2003). This technique has been well demonstrated during my documentations that aromatherapy diffuser does help with my wellbeing, which counterbalanced my body. Lavender has been used during this series of documentation as research shows that Lavender helps to relax and sleep (Diego et al., 1998).

Then I decided to tie associations between essential oils and muscle tension. Breathing exercise [1] has been performed while running the test by recording the before, during and after effect of my muscle tension after sniffing specific essential oil (Diego et al., 1998). Data and results has been plotted down,refer to [Figure 4.3].

The device has been worn around my neck, as shown in [Figure 4.4], as long as I am sitting in front of my desk, to be able to have better understanding of the effect on my body. In every time I am sitting in front of my working desk, I am going to put it on, connected to the computer and micro controller when later at the end of the day I will transcribe all events and details happen in between that I remember in written form.

Most of the time, I will try to maintain a precise and detailed record of my activities including; drawing, reading, thinking, eating, making models, etc. under normal circumstances I have been comparing and contrasting the content of the narration of my body movement and posture log with a list of olfactory stimuli on a consistent pace. Through this, I want to obtain and form a relatively precise relationship between the recorded/ monitored period on EMG signals and the story, consisting of these aspects:

1.Comfort level wearing the devices

2.Awareness on own body condition

3.Memories recalled (recorded in written form in log book)

The experimental device was designed around the form of a headphone, resembling the idea of wearing headphones around the head part while working in front of the desk.


  • [1] Refers to breathing exercise performed while tackling the choice of scents. Muscle tensions level has been recorded before, during and after a specific chosen scent is release.

Figure 4.2 My Body Movement and Postures recorded during my most stressful week during the term. It has been re-staged for photography and documentation purposes. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

Figure 4.3 Associations of smells to specific muscle tension. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

Figure 4.4 Neoteny II experimental device designed to be worn around the neck. Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

 

4.3: Theoretical and Philosophical Underpinnings: Towards a New Cyborg Manifesto

A diary that tells the story of all my memories and experiences, including the time spent working in front of my working desk wearing the device and when the external olfactory stimuli enters the storyline. In addition, to carefully observe the experiences that recalls memories while my body movement and posture coincides with the actual experiences with the environment have been reflected in my diary. There is also the question of suppressing my conscience during this series of self experimentation, which allows me to usher myself into a new territory of self quantifying where expressions and understandings take place simultaneously.

Hui Sim Chan (2018)

Figure 4.5: Neoteny II: how my experiences wearing the wearable changes each day.Hui Sim Chan, 2018.

In designing a project that attempts to build the third constructed technological body, I started to consider how the ideas and agency are manifested. The relationship between mind, body, and matter has long been a subject of philosophical query, and I turn this lens to the matter of this thesis. Our body is a mediator [1] between the external reality and our psychic. We have been constantly integrating interoceptive signals from the body for a representation of the inner self. Neoteny aims to alter the feedback loop that influences the cognitive experience of individuals.

Again, the same method of documentation has been used [2]. Based on the observation during the first stage of the experiment (before usage), I paid more attention to my body movement and posture while working in front of my desk whilst at the same time trying to speculate the smell that I will be expecting from Neoteny II experimental device. This initial step has heightened my BSC and awareness to the environment.

This is followed by the second stage of the experiment in which the effect of Neoteny II while attached to my body has been studied through a prolonged usage of the device. It was comfortable to have the device fitted around my neck as it was light [3] and it feels like my usual days working and moving around with my headphones. Not only did it not interfere and restrict my body movement and posture, it has also provided me more freedom and choices of moving around. As mentioned by Steve Mann, the technological extension or wearable should be natural (Mann, n.d..). The computability of having the device sitting around my neck for a prolonged period of time has also lead to a more accurate body training exercise, the effect was different from Neoteny I, this gives out a more subtle experiences which makes me wonder how did I even trigger the smells? I was immersed in the environment meanwhile working in front of my desk. It got me interrupted from negative emotions.

This took a longer period [4] of time for the training exercise compared to Neoteny I. However, the after effect was much more effective to me. Nothing much was being informed or reflected from my body when the device was removed at the end of the experiment, except not using a headphone. The effect amplified afterwards when familiar smells was released again. It brings me back to the moment where I still had it on. I believe that I will be able to experience it even more, or it will start mediating my perception toward my body movement and posture with the environment if I start attaching it on my body on a daily basis.

Through this different sets of experiment, it makes me believe that it is possible to have an external device that is able to amplify our memories through olfaction as our extended cognition. It was predicted based on Steve Mann’s statement that technology needed to be balanced on three axes [5], and by applying the rules, we will be able to add layers of customisation and create more immersive experience for the user (Mann, n.d..). This creates opportunities to create an immersive environment where people are able to modify and alter their senses by transferring or exchanging smells. If we could just understand body movement and posture as a collection of smell, we can begin to envision a system which marries together one’s emotions and memories. This notion will be explored and studied further, following the journey of a series of smell collection.

 

4.4: Public Acceptance

I have worn the designed wearable and roamed around the city for a couple of days at different places, different time. I have had it on most of the time. I have encountered quite a bit of “attention”, refer to [Figure 4.6] by the public in the reaction to the wearable I was wearing. My guess is that some people are intrigued by a new wearable closer to our face. At the same time wearing it in different context, in the campus, and the most memorable one was me wearing to a conference during London Architecture week, it didn’t feel awkward at all, refer to [Figure 4.7]. It feels like it’s nothing new anymore. It’s so subtle that people around me got used to me wearing the wearable around. My group of friends got accustomed to it.

I have been exposed to different demographics of audiences in public and school, therefore getting different responses from them. For example, different approaches and responses for them towards the wearable. I have gotten confrontation from my friends only at the beginning but stares in the public, or new environment. To my surprise, there are few of them that were willing to try it out.

“ It’s hype yo!” Commented by one of the wearer, Terrance Choo at Stratford International Train Station, refer to [Figure 4.8] and [Figure 4.9].

Based on the observations and explorations on pubic acceptance and reactions towards a new attachments on the body, I believe that in this context, demographics play a vital role in it, younger generations are exposed to more digital devices compared to older crowds. Not forgetting the social image of the attachment are rather crucial too, Kelman, 1958 commented on how individuals often like to respond to social influences to create favourable impressions and images to the public (Kelman, 1958).

“ When mobile technology was new, mobile handled devices were treated as novel and “cool” things, which           contributed to users’ perception of an enhanced sense of self-importance.” (Sarker and Wells, 2003).

Visual attractiveness is just as crucial as the social image of the device in social interaction systems, as it is served as a platform or a symbolic media to portray user’s social image within their community (Venkatesh et al., 2003). This exploration defines a new external attachment as the extent to which it will be part of the attachment or extension of the body is possible.


  • [1] Refers to a middle agent separating the user and the environment.
  • [2] Three different stages: before, during and after Neoteny I usage. This aims to compare the effect on the user (Wigley, 2001).
  • [3] Refers to the construction and materiality of the experimental device: Hacked a headphone and attached 3D printed capsules with mechanisms embedded in it.
  • [4] 3 weeks of experimentation.
  • [5] The physical, the informative and the human (Mann, n.d..).

5.0: Designing the System

physiological adaptations to ever-changing environment

Researchers have discovered a variety of studies on human ability to be able to adapt their breathing patterns, like Ethiopians and Tibetans, are able to breath more efficiently at high altitude compared to normal people. For example, there is evidence that Tibetans population have a higher level of oxygen in their blood. Evolution is endless. The evolving notion of our bodies has been influenced by technological revolution. We have all exceeded the limitations of our biology and therefore we need external attachments to extend ourselves.

An example by Clark – The relationship between human and watches. When you ask a person for time, they would answer by checking their watch (Clark, Chalmers, 1998). This habit has proven the incorporation of our cognitive process to external attachments or technological devices around us, it extended our capabilities and augmented our physical body to be able to keep track with time.

All these human technological interfaces have slowly ushered us into numerous opportunities and augmentation capabilities of human limitation. Imagine in the near future, we will be able to have a suit able to enhance our physical performance, a portable language translator that will allow us to travel to every part of the world without any language barriers. In the future, it will be a new form of body augmentation able to enhance our memory, make us stronger and more capable than we are today.

Therefore, by having all these new forms of body augmentation, it might indirectly provide more opportunities for the society, for example, this might heavily impoact sports competition as questions like – Do prosthetic legs help runner to run faster than the average athlete? will be raised.

 

“ The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation.”

(Haraway, n.d.)

 

The technological development of the last decade has altered human laws of evolution. The word “cyborg, used to be an imaginary organism many years ago. In this trans modern times, we have Neil Harbisson, who is known as the first official cyborg, having an antenna extended from his head to help him perceive colours by transforming them into sound. This antenna has given him a new ability to adapt to the environment by designing himself a new body extension. However, the question here remains – Are we all on our way to redefine our own evolution? Is natural selection still part of our human evolution process, or it’s based on what we can do to our body by integrating body extensions to ourselves? The boundary between our human bodies and machines has been blurred. Human evolution is a process of million years, but instead of waiting for another million years, we are dealing it by ourselves.

 

Conclusion

In this paper, the emergence of human body and machine has been discussed. A series of experiments and explorations have been conducted to demonstrate the concept of human-technology interfaces on human bodies. It shows that these interfaces are closely integrated with the human body, as shown in numerous cognitive science studies, how using body extensions as a toll can affect how we perceive the environment.

As wearable or technological devices have slowly taking a huge part of our daily lives, or even slowly merging with us, we have to accept the fact that we are no longer evolving by experiencing the environment in the traditional methods anymore. Instead, by incorporating these tools as our extension, we can already start having internalised human-technology interfaces that are able to augment our functional capabilities and cognition. Imagining an immersive future where we can start accessing our memories through the way we navigate ourselves in the environment; where we can start having remote user interfaces embedded: Remote users can start releasing ‘smells’ with a subtle message such as “ I miss you.” And even, in a social interaction context, when the user doing a presentation in the public, he was nervous and therefore the stress level goes beyond the threshold, the remote wearer will be able to sense it, increasing universal empathy between them. By helping him to overcome his tree level, the system or environment around him can either release the burst of scent automatically, or the remote wearer can just trigger that to calm him down.

Navigating the speculations about the future of external technological devices as part of our body extension or attachment, this design thesis challenges the viewer to question what is possible. This design thesis has questioned the effectiveness of current technological means for the representation of memory and body movement and posture. In a world where technologies can start integrating us with the environment, this design thesis also seeks to reconsider the role of external technological devices through our body. Citing Steve Mann’s comments on the merging of human body and the machines, this design thesis has also reflected beyond the physical body as a site where digital devices could start merging with it. As it was discussed through the thesis that olfaction is able to evoke personal experiences and autobiographical memories, by producing a wearable piece that is simultaneously functional, technologically and symbolically potent, it hopes to expand our notions of what is possible.

Neoteny has suggested few possibilities on different avenues of how a symbiotic relationship with its wearer can be formed and has provoked a debate around how much body ownership over our bodies we truly have. This design thesis has discovered different avenues of communicating with the body, by using olfactory stimuli to create a very subtle communication between our body and the environment by sensing our muscle tensions through our body movements and postures. Triggered by the idea of how olfaction are able to evoke autographical memories and experiences, the work of this design thesis attempts to inspire a reimagining of what else is possible in the future of body extensions.

As this design thesis kickstarted with the idea of me documenting my daily life with and without Neoteny for the past 3 months, through these extended sets of experimentations and self explorations with different type of sensory output and their respective effects on how it has altered my perceptions has provided me with some important insights and conclusions while at the same time it is an open ground for further explorations and experimentations. The evaluation of this project is very personalised as it is evolving around my own autobiographical memory and experiences, and therefore I am presenting this work to each of my readers independently with the aim of sharing the experiences of how my perceptions change each day with Neoteny.

The idea of ‘cyborg’ has always fascinated me since young, citing Steve Mann on how he had been wearing his computerised eyewear for more than 35 years, I aim to:

1.Technically, start refining Neoteny into a more handy and subtle body extension by looking into a smaller scent releasing mechanism to embed the micro controller and release scents.

2.For more augmented self-experiences, I aim to start wearing it on a daily basis and carry on with my daily log, including the details of how my experiences change each day with Neoteny.

My aim is to start accumulating my experiences and recorded data, so at the end of year show and future, I will be able to present to the public about my experiences and maybe some of the weird encounters I will be experiencing with Neoteny. For example, during these series of explorations, I started exploring different ways of walking or moving in the environment, allowing me to unlock more ways of moving our body. I have tried walking lunges or side lunges to get to point B from point A; I have tried moving my bodies in many weird ways to just to try to trigger the best smells to invite more social interactions. Additionally, these series of neoteny wearable documentation will be carried on by wearing it on for a longer period of time, and to have collections of logbook documented how my experiences change each day with neoteny. The possibility of the relationship with technology interfaces with body extension will continue to be explored.

 

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