#experience #interaction #VR #body_movement #motion_design
(Un)Balance is an experience in XR (extended reality) which rethinks human-spaces interactions by foregrounding the notion of embodiment. It provokes body awareness, movement and exploration.
Context _ Master project developped at the Interactive Architecture Lab (Bartlett, UCL). Completion: 2019. Collaborators: Tia Hockey (dancer) and Farid Akmal (wearable maker). Supervisors: Fiona Zisch, Alexander Whitley, Phoenix Perry.
Exhibited _ Ars Electronica Festival (2018, Linz, AU), Interactive Architecture Lab catapult (2019, London, UK), Best of animation @ Ars Electronica Festival (2019, Linz, AU).
Role _ Researcher, creative director, experience, interaction, product & Unity3D designer, maker, video director and editor, project manager.
Tools _ Pen & paper, interviews, physical and digital prototyping, Unity 3D, Rhinoceros, Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop.
Why? Today, our western world is slowly welcoming the idea that body awareness and body movement play key roles in our physical and emotional healths. However, we increasingly evolve towards spatial contexts and interactions which tend to limit and control our moving bodies while dispersing our daily attention through constant visual stimuli. Most interactive experiences in VR are no exceptions, as they primarily play of the visual sensory system, de-engaging participants from their own bodies.
What? (Un)Balance is an interactive experience in XR (extended reality) inviting participants to play on the edge of stability. It rethinks immersive interactions by foregrounding the notion of embodiment. Here I imagine a world where human-space interactions aim at training curiosity, exploration and awareness. Its design is inspired by Somaesthetics theory which highlights links between body awareness, unusual movements and perception of the world.
Designed at the Interactive Architecture Lab, the experience is the result of various prototypes and participatory exhibitions, namely at Ars Electronica Festival.
How? In a 10 minutes solo experience, VR technology is combined to two analog tools, a wearable and a tilting platform. They merge into visual, touch and sound stimuli, augmenting and shifting the participant’s perception of his body and environment. Once all set, the participant is simply instructed to explore.
He moves on a cushioned tilting platform, which unsettles him, pushing his sense of balance to its limits. He also wears an apparel on the torso which augments his sensations of shifting weight and contributes haptic and auditory stimulation. Finally, a VR headset and a set of motion trackers placed on the participant’s body and platform enable a virtual avatar and a virtual world to change in substance and gravity attraction in response to the participant’s movements. The quiet minimalist world, designed in hues of muted greys, aim for visual stimuli to be kept in balance with touch and auditory stimuli. It is designed in Unity3D. The procedural avatar is computed by Final IK.
The interplay of multi-sensory stimuli, enhanced by non-linear responses, awakens the player’s curiosity. Made unusually aware of his moving body and environment, he is provoked to engage in an exploratory process, through movement.
Further. (un)Balance questions the possibilities offered by XR experiences in contexts such as emotional health therapy and moving meditation. For exemple, combinations of VR and analog tools could be used to train and/or amplify visualisation techniques.