Manchester, UK is exploring gesture and protest in a surprising art project that is part of the Smart Cities CityVerve program. A post on Alphr explains the artist’s inspiration for SUPERGESTURES.
Ling Tan, the designer and artist behind the project, references everything from black power salutes to the arms-crossed gestures of the 2014 Umbrella protests in Hong Kong – all examples of how collective body movements can be a powerful tool for protest.
The project’s theme of gesture was the result of workshops with young people that were more interested in government and social justice issues than they were to smart city connectivity. However, wearable tech has become a strong portion of the art.
30 participants will be guided by audio headsets, directed to certain locations, and provoked to respond to sentiments with specific body gestures.
“I feel unsafe and claustrophobic on public transport in busy periods,” a voice may say in the headphones. “I envision a future with more options for transport… support me by horizontally opening your arms out wide.”
Tan’s work with other projects has led to an understanding that gesture creates interest. So, by using LED strips to outline gestures of arms, participants will attract attention which can lead to conversations with the public. The circuit uses RedBear Labs Blend Micro board, which has an ATmega 32u4 chip and BLE. Sensors to detect movement include force sensitive resistors and possibly flex sensors. According to the project’s site, the final performance will take place in March. So, if you are in Manchester, make sure you sign up for information. For those of you who would like a deep dive into the world of FSR (force sensitive resistors), check out our learning guide. You can make a wearable that reacts to the pressure of body parts with an output of light or sound. What will you make?
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