Workshop and speaker series focus on human-computer interaction

Human computer interaction installation

AMPD Computational Arts Professor Mark-David Hosale and Theatre Professor Erika Batdorf, along with collaborators Kate Digby (Kansas State University, Manhattan) and Alan Macy (BIOPAC Systems, Inc.) are combining their interests in human-computer interaction to present Movement and Emotion as Computational Interfaces, a week-long workshop and free public speaker series running June 6 to 12 at York University’s Keele campus.

Evening of.. Philip Beesley/ PROTOCELL FIELD Philip Beesley with Mark-David Hosale and Alan Macy May 18th, 2012, 21:00 to 23:00 • Gouvernestraat 133, Rotterdam DEAF2012 Exhibition, May 17-June 3. A quasi-metabolic ‘happening’ that uses collective neurosignaling to grow next-generation Hylozoic Series protocell formations
A quasi-metabolic ‘happening’ that uses collective neurosignaling to grow next-generation Hylozoic Series protocell formations by Philip Beesley with MECI collaborators Mark-David Hosale and Alan Macy for the Rotterdam DEAF2012 Exhibition, 2012

Led by an interdisciplinary team with backgrounds in performance, computational media art and bioengineering, Movement and Emotion as Computational Interfaces offers a point of convergence for researchers, artists and makers working in the larger domain of emotive research. The project aims to bring together a wide range of participants, from consciousness hackers who explore how technology can positively change the way we think, feel and live; to performers and others who use somatic awareness as a tool for the recreation of authentic emotion; to computational media artists, who use technology to explore questions of human and machine through artworks that critique our techno-scientific world.

“Through the workshop and public talks, we will explore how technology can help us create deeper connections with the world around us, each other, and ourselves, by integrating the latest advances in bioinformatic sensing technology with modes of physiological awareness found in somatic performance practice,” said Hosale. “The potential for this research is the development of new modalities for human-computer interaction that hold the promise for the seamless integration of emotive and rational control over complex computing systems.”

The workshop incorporates the Batdorf Technique, a somatic system for physical-emotional integration that Erika Batdorf developed over 25 years of performance and movement-for-actors training. It allows performers to access, catalogue and recreate emotional states and develop heightened presence through physiological awareness, enriching their artistic practice and deepening their connection with audiences.

The Batdorf Technique Workshop
The Batdorf Technique Workshop

Participants will consider whether there’s a corollary between the experience perceived by the performer and bioinformatic measures of the performer taken at the time of the experience. Can bioinformatic sensing be used as a feedback system to help train performers? Will there be a difference in somatic control between someone who is trained in the Batdorf Technique and someone who is not?

If this premise can be validated, the next step will be to research how the technology can be used to create mediated connections between individuals or groups of people and between an audience and a performer, and to mediate the affect of people within a given environment. The seven-day workshop features seminars and practicums on somatic performance and movement, and technical foundations for work with bioinformatic sensors with media-based software such as Max, SuperCollider and Processing. The workshop is targeted to a diverse audience, including students and emerging scholars as well as highly qualified, experienced individuals from the academic and private sectors. Participants are welcome from a variety of fields such as performance, somatic movement and awareness, computational media arts, entertainment, gaming, computer science, architecture, and other art/science collaborations.

The workshop is open to the public. Registration is available online and costs $200 plus HST & fees.

The speaker series runs daily from June 6 to 10, with free public talks taking place 5:30 to 7pm in the Transmedia Lab, room 103 Accolade West Building.

Left to Right: Richard Shusterman, Martha Eddy, Stephen Auger, Alan Macy, Erika Batdorf and Marcos Novak
Left to Right: Richard Shusterman, Martha Eddy, Stephen Auger, Alan Macy, Erika Batdorf and Marcos Novak

On Monday, June 6, Richard Shusterman, the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and director of the Center for Body, Mind, and Culture at Florida Atlantic University, introduces somaesthetics, a new interdisciplinary field of research dedicated to the study and cultivation of the soma (the living, sentient, purposive body) as our medium of sensory perception and action, and the site of our expressive self-stylization. His talk, “Somaesthetics and Design”, will focus on the application of somaesthetics to the fields of art and design, particularly human-computer interactive design.

Martha Eddy and Stephen Auger present “The Embodied Physiology of Perception” on Tuesday, June 7.  Eddy is an exercise physiologist, dance educator and somatic movement therapist who teaches at Princeton University as well as the Laban/Bartenieff Institute, the School for Body-Mind Centering® and her own Dynamic Embodiment™ Somatic Movement Therapy program. Auger is a painter and multi-media artist who explores the boundaries between visual perception and sensory experience. Through their talk and participatory activity, Eddy and Auger will address the interactive nature of the five ‘exteroceptor’ senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling) and how they interface with other, “interoceptor’ senses that underlie kinesthetic intelligence.

New digital interfaces are becoming available that transform biologically-generated activity into viable data input sources for computers. BIOPAC Systems Research and Development Director Alan Macy, a science and cyber artist with a background in engineering, will address this topic in a talk titled “Bioinformatics and the Human-Computer Interface” on Wednesday, June 8. He will discuss how human-sourced activity such as physiological signals generated by the heart, skeletal muscle, brain neuronal activity, eye movements or the pulse provide a wealth of information not readily available otherwise; how such data can be collected, analyzed and interpreted; and how computer interfaces capable of discerning emotional and motivational states can be used to improve the creative design process and associated results

On Thursday, June 9, Erika Batdorf presents “The Batdorf Technique: Kinesthetic Transference and Interoceptive Awareness in Performance”. She will give an overview of her technique, which systematizes the full scope of a performer’s work from the early stages of interoceptive awareness to the complicated juggling of this somatic work with layers of external structure in the act of conscious kinesthetic communication with an audience. Bartdorf will also present research questions regarding her technique’s application to bioinformatic technology and computational art.

The speaker series concludes Friday, June 10 with Marcos Novak on “Transverging Cognition and Creativity.” Novak is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is affiliated with CNSI (the California NanoSystems Institute), programs in Art and Media Art and Technology, and serves as director of the UCSB transLAB. He will speak on how we can understand creativity and cognition in a way that is consonant with both the “sciences of the artificial” and the “ecology of mind.”

For full details visit the Movement and Emotion as Computational Interfaces website.