Entanglement of Movement and Meaning: The Architect, Spatial Perception and the Technological Body

One century ago, Schlemmer conducted a sequence of seminal experiments merging the body/design, movement/architecture, emotion/technology to break the relationships between body and space. Schlemmer saw the modern world driven by two main currents: the mechanized (human as machine) and the primordial (depths of emotional and creative urges). Today's contemporary technologies– including the virtual, synthetic, augmented, dematerialized, the data driven- challenge designers with new relationships between the body and space.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus School of Design, this special seminar-workshop continues the historic work of Schlemmer, and invite students to investigate the body as a medium for design.  This seminar will examine how contemporary technologies and scientific discourse surrounding the body, the mind, and perception can change our relationship to space and architecture.  Integrating design, fabrication, movement, and performance, the course will explore new bodily and spatial interfaces culminating in a public performance planned by the GSD and the Harvard Museums in celebration of the Bauhaus anniversary.

In the transdisciplinary Bauhaus spirit, we will visit the ideas of philosophers, designers, choreographers, artists, and neuroscientists, within the context of advancements in wearable media, prosthetics, bio-technology and the evolving discourse in gender and body-politics.  The historic Bauhaus performance program continues to be an important reference and inspiration towards the creation of new artistic and design responses, and we will take it as a launching point for critical re-actualizations, re-interpretations, re-visions and counter-visions.

The students of this course will have an opportunity to develop skills in human scale design, industrial design, physical computing and fabrication while considering bodily movement and action.  There will also be opportunities to learn sensing and responsive technologies (including hardware/software integration, sensors, micro-projection, biometric sensing, etc), while applying them to critical social discourse.

The course will include visits to research groups specializing in prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and soft robotics at Harvard and MIT Media Lab. There will also be special visits by choreographers, musicians, and neuroscientists.

Practical work will be combined with readings, presentations, and discussions involving examples of relevant art and design. Projects will be documented and disseminated through social media, a special website, and a publication. The course is open to students from GSD, VES, School of Engineering and others, although GSD students have priority for enrollment.