Responsive Spaces: Motion, Activity and Interactive Art


Session Title:

  • Spaces, Bodies, Emergence, and Data in Interactive Art

Presentation Title:

  • Responsive Spaces: Motion, Activity and Interactive Art




  • Sensing and responding to dynamic human activity occupies a rich position in the history of interactive art. Artists such as Camille Utterback, Golan Levin and Petra Gemeinboeck have explored human movement as a physical, distributed and social phenomenon. Their work and that of the broader community engaged in creating responsive experiential art is the focus of our research and the inspiration for our creative experimentation.

    We present an overview of artworks that track and display human activity, particularly movement. We focus on the temporal and spatial lenses adopted by each work in interrogating and responding to human movement. The purpose and provocation of these diverse installations span a range from utilitarian to aesthetic.  Works such as Ishii’s Pinwheels and Agamanolis’ Reflexion provide information on social and technological interactions. In contrast, Rokeby’s San Marco Flow and Gemeinboeck’s Impossible Geographies render patterns of movement through space at vastly different scales and require varying levels of human participation. The works represent a distribution of approaches in terms of feedback mechanisms, analysis of captured data and scale of detected and represented activity.

    Inspired by these works, we introduce Building with a Memory, an interactive installation which captures and represents human movement in a collaborative, multi-use workplace. We explore co-located and distributed sensing and feedback, and display activity over varying scales from a single room to the wider surrounding environment.  The workspaces in this building span the gamut from fabrication and performance spaces to computer labs.  Each hosts a variety of individual and group activities, characterized by different kinds of physical and audio activity.  Recording, analyzing and representing the ebb and flow of these activities over time provides opportunities for communal reflection and to develop insight into the community, for members and visitors alike. Indirect accent lighting and video provide feedback in an ambient manner. While we capture activity over time, we mask identity of individuals. This approach maintains privacy while providing practical information on the history of the community. We describe three integrated implementations of the Building with a Memory installation and provide insights into the challenges, reactions and impact of our work.

PDF Document:

Related Links: