[ISEA2014] Panel: Christiane Heibach (moderator), Jan-Lewe Torpus, Andreas Simon – Responsive Environments: A Panel on the Interrelation between Location, Atmosphere, and Digital Media

Panel Statement

Since the emergence of computer technologies the notion of „location“ has been expanded. From the beginning, digital media were seen as world‑generating technologies being able to create alternative forms of “locations“, e.g. virtual environments. Currently, tendencies like ubiquitous computing and wearable computing point to a further dimension of “location”: hybrid spaces in which moving, multi‑sensing, and interacting may reach new levels of intensity. This causes a paradigm shift in digital technologies, because the simulation of virtual spaces is substituted by experiments with interaction and digitally expanded perception in physical space. Thus, mobile and pervasive technologies will change the future design and artistic opportunities of Human‑Computer Interfaces. Furthermore, their extended responsiveness will modify the individual’s perception and notion of the self.

In our own work we hope to get more insight into the consequences of sensory and feedback technologies for the generation of specific atmospheres, which will decisively influence the way people interact and perceive (and vice versa), This topic is currently discussed within media aesthetic theory, e.g. by Brian Massumi and Mark B.N. Hansen, who refer to phenomonological approaches which try to describe and explain processes of bodily affection. It has to be discussed if these approaches really cover all aspects which have to be considered when thinking of a future with (nearly) ‘interfaceless’ technologies.

The presentations in this panel will address different aspects of the immediate experience of technical environments:

  • What are the characteristics of hybrid spaces and how can they intuitively be experienced despite the use of high tech applications? And what kind of technologies, artistic expressions, design principles and dramaturgic strategies are adequate to reach this level of intuitive and immediate experience in concrete locations?
  • What is the role of multisensory design in this context? Do we need to transcend the audiovisual sphere and include kinaesthetic, olfactory and tactile experiences to create an immediate atmospheric experience? And what are the consequences for human proprioception when sensor‑based technologies like biofeedback establish an ‚immediate‘ relation of the human to the environment, which is mainly based on somatic processes (like heart beat and breath), and which can only partly be intentionally influenced?
  • How can scientific qualitative and quantitative data be interpreted and designed aesthetically without being treated in a complete arbitrary way? This question leads directly into the center of the discussion on the relation between art and scientific research and the ways of data design (data visualization, data sonification etc.).


  1.     Ilze Black (Queen Mary University, London) – Towards Phenomenology of Internet of Things: Making it happen
  2.     Alan Summers (University of Chester, Chester) – Location as an Experiential Palimpsest
  3.     Gwenn‑Aël Lynn (Chicago/Paris)  – Creolized Olfactory Spaces
  4.     Scott Hessels (School of Creative Media, Hong Kong) – Extreme Environments: Hong Kong’s Art+Science Expeditions
  5.     Jan Torpus (Institute for Experimental Design and Media Cultures, Basel) – Biofeedback Environments
  6.     James Partaik (Avatar, CA) – Insertio
  • Christiane Heibach (moderator), CH, is currently Research Fellow at the Basel Institute of Research in Art and Design (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland) and at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. With a background in German Literary Studies she completed her PhD at the University of Heidelberg in 2000 with one of the first studies on internet literature.

Full text (PDF) p. 203-204