TGarden is an investigation of how people make sense of and navigate in rich and dynamically evolving media spaces. Given the rise of ubiquitous computing and realtime media synthesis, we’re anticipating the need for coherent yet supple ways for designers to create such complex interactive media spaces and for people to inhabit them.
In a TGarden space, visitors wearing instrumented clothing creates and modulate video and sound based on their gesture and movement. In effect, visitors write video and sound by their movement.
For 2001-2002, we concentrated on using wireless sensors on the body to track gesture. We built a state evolution system that responds continuously to sensor statistics, synthesizes and marshalls media in realtime.
In TGarden spaces, we use a combination of costumes outfitted with sensors, video tracking, realtime sound and video processing, and gestural pattern tracking.
Links:Research concerns include the design of continuously varying narrative spaces, how people improvise meaningful gesture, and factors of tangibility and coherence such as latency, temporal (musical) texture and rhythm. Our goal is to come up principles of design that should be useful for creating and inhabiting responsive media spaces. This research thread parallels a series of international productions in Europe and the United States.
TGarden is a responsive environment, inspired by calligraphy and scrying. In TGarden, players’ gestures are transformed into generative computer graphics and digital soundscapes, leaving marks and traces in much the same way as a calligrapher would with brushes and ink. When visitors approach the TGarden, they choose from a range of costumes, designed to encourage particular kinds of movement. Light and voluminous for space-filling, fast movements; tight and restrictive for small, fine gestures; heavy and transparent for slow, meditative actions. In intimate dressing chambres, in addition to the costumes, the players are equipped with accelerometers, sensors able to detect changes in speed and tilt of the movement, an optical device for tracking the players’ position and direction in the space, as well as a small wearable transmitter that communicates with the software systems “back-stage.”
Once players enter the space, they are left alone to explore the connections between their bodies and the environment. A swiping motion could send an organic-looking, digital shadow smearing across the floor; walking across the room could sound like swimming with a swarm of invisible, but musical creatures. The sonic and visual media are layered in textures and meanings, allowing for various styles and interpretations. Even though simple interactions are easily learned, it takes time to get acquainted with the environment’s own nature. As an apprentice calligrapher must learn to find a balance between the flow of ink, the pressure of the brush and the speed of his gesture, a player in TGarden slowly learns to write, scratch and dig through the media space, to be able to play it as an instrument…
Together with Sponge, we designed and developed several installations over a two-year period between 2000 and 2001, testing them with audiences across Europe and North America.