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Design Yourself: Party for the end of the world

artwork by the young creatives showing someone wearing a helmet against a backdrop of electronic systems
9 Mar 2020
4 min watch


In the fifth workshop of our Life Rewired inspired Design Yourself project, our young creatives worked with New Movement Collective and Fenyce Workspace who led a practical workshop introducing the group to their prototype project XO.

Through exploring how machines can control and aid human movement through choreography, the group looked at and interacted with project XO, a participatory dance experience. During the session they discussed power control, agency and empathy in the context of robotic interactions and imagined how to push the boundaries of interactivity in multi-user digital experiences. As a response to the workshop artists Pietro Bardini and Tice Cin worked with Antonio Roberts to create Party for the end of the world.

Creating Party for the end of the world

Burdensome creativity. Outsourcing us to them. Perhaps we can surprise ourselves through technology. In a dance with a robot you are both adapting to one another. Imagine humanity losing what it needs to sustain itself, while at the same point technology has already begun to function beyond needing human society. Would the traditional robot dance with you to say goodbye? As your joints creak, so too would its soft pneumatic muscles, rubber tubes and pulleys. This collaboration could stretch you, push at your limits – ‘I am not a representation of the human body, but a different thing / Soon I’ll move outside what’s humanly possible.’

It could be liberating, to relinquish control of our bodies to buttons or to another robot in charge of those buttons, DJing the human body. This mixed reality environment might undermine social relationships like those found through dancing, but maybe the parametres through which we define social connectedness are changing. At risk of anthropomorphising the robot unhelpfully, perhaps engaging with the machine as social robot would allow us to develop a deeper (somewhat more empathetic) collaborative relationship with what we build.

How we contributed:

Pietro’s composition was formed through embracing the noises of the machine rather than suppressing it. The next version of project XO is envisioned with a reduction of its noises, which inspired Pietro to emphasise the naturalistic cacophony of the machine while its sounds were still present. This sparked wider thinking around sound design and how sound actuators are used on electric cars (being required to emit artificial noise) – is there a noisy idyll?

The soundscape features a recording of the valves pumping air into project XO, loaded into a granular synth to break down the recording into thousands of grains. This method collaborates with the machine, relinquishing some creative freedom to it.

Antonio’s visuals knit together footage of Design Yourself Collective using Fenyce’s innovative sensing and responsive technologies, later heading towards a darker space where the digital environment folds in on itself.

Mini-essay and poem by Tice.

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