Project Brief

How embedded technologies transform the space itself into an interface?


The project explores how distributed digital technologies can be implemented to physical space (object, room, building, the city) to add layers of information, supporting the interaction between the user and the environment and transforming the surrounding space into a dynamic medium. Physical world always hosted a plethora of information. However, we are now seeking new ways to trigger, control and interact with the flow of information, whether it would be visual, sonic, haptic or other, within a spatial framework.

The computer is no longer reserved to the limits of a particular configuration (the screen – keyboard – mouse continuum). Since the emerging realization of ubiquitous computing, digital technologies of all kinds are being increasingly embedded in the physical world; the real space is transformed by the overlaying with dynamic flows of data. At the same time, the real world becomes a source of information itself, through sensing. Thus, we arrive in a new condition (in which terms such as ‘responsive’ or ‘interactive environments’ are often used to describe spaces that bring computation into the real world) that challenges the polarity between the notion of real space and virtual worlds. New thresholds emerge, constructing richer corporeal and phenomenological experiences, as technology is now easier to use and closer to people’s bodies and senses.

This projects aims at the remediation of physical space and its physical attributes (sound, shape, form, texture, location) with layers of information, asking about the relation among them. The user becomes an active participant to a diverse and multi-dimensional novel experience of contemporary space.

Aims and objectives

A creative installation in a physical space (whether outdoors or indoors, urban or rural) using the physical properties of a real object/space as part of it.

  • To find a suitable space to experiment with digital technology.
  • To explore the boundaries between physical & virtual space
  • To gain creative and technical skills & understanding of digital technologies.
  • To develop a concept for the integration of technology & environment, and theinteraction of space & users.
  • To combine an array of different technologies (media, software) in order to create an interactive physical installation.
  • To create a participatory, site-specific installation that is controlled by disparate sources; the user, the participants, sensors, real-time sources of information. GPS, mobile media.
  • To enhance spatial experience through the generation of a multi-sensory engagement.

Learning outcomes

  • Collaborating with a large team of different backgrounds
  • How to create, organize and stage an artistic installation
  • Understand of the role of interfaces in mediating information and experience.
  • Understand the challenges of creating a participatory experience

 Submission suggestions and presentation ideas

The project encourages the creation of a physical interactive installation, such as a projection mapping, an immersive/physical computing installation, or any combination of the above. However, these examples are meant as urges, rather than prescriptions. The participants are free to explore the limits of current practices and embark in their own creative research.


Online resources

Suggested Tools

This project will offer opportunities to learn and apply a variety of digital tools. It is important to engage with the tools offered here critically, research their limits and decide on the ones that are most adequate for the purposes of the project.

  • Blender, offers  an environment to model and visualize the physical space in detail in order to study its elements and attributes, as well as an output environment – a creative tool to create and design 2D or 3D visuals. In some occasions, it can also be sed in real-time with python and the game-engine to control responsive visuals.
  • MaxMSP / Jitter; VVVV and PureData, are three established platforms to design, control and operate multimedia installations.
  • Processing is a Java-based scripting language, that can be used from the control of arduino or sensors, to data visualization or generative art.
  • VideoProjectionTool (VPT) & MadMapper, are two interfaces used for real-time projection mapping.
  • Arduino is a prototyping platform to create interactive electronic objects (interfacing input/ output with the computer) and can be controlled and programmed with processing, or controlled in real-time with MaxMSP (maxuino).
  • Java and OpenFrameworks (C++) are other programming options that are used in the creation of multimedia. However, their learning curve is steeper.


This brief list is in a state of progress (will be maintained and updated during the course), and it is intended as a starting point, for a theoretical research on the intersection of media, space and perception.

Bolter, J-D. and Grusin, R. (2000) Remediation: understanding new media. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Bullivant, L. (2006) Responsive Environments, Architecture, Art and Design. London:V&A Publications
Coyne, R. (2010) The Tuning Place. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Foucault, M. (1986) Of Other Spaces (trans. Jay Miskowiec), Diacritics 16(1), pp.22-27
Grau, O. (2003). Visual Art: From illusion to immersion, Cambridge: MIT Press.
Manovich, L. (2002 ) The Language of New Media, Cambridge: MIT Press
Manovich, L. (2006) The poetics of augmented space, Visual Communication 5(2),pp. 219-240
Pallasmaa, J. (2005) The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses. John Wiley: New York.

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