[ISEA2020] Paper: Liz Lessner — Sensory and Spatial Koans


Keywords: Sensory Engagement, Gestural Interaction, Physical Computing, Lygia Clark, Spatial Koans, Embedded Electronics, Contemporary Sculpture

Taking as a departure point Lygia Clark’s koan-like use of paradox and material juxtaposition this paper asks how her methods might be deployed in the context of contemporary technologies, like embedded electronics and algorithms, and what we might make if we take the spatial or sensory koan as a strategy when building with these materials. It will introduce the spatial koan as a lens through which to view Clark’s work, discuss her use of sensory juxtaposition in the object based therapeutic treatment she devised called Structuring the Self, and introduce The Relational Objects Project, currently in production, as an example of how this framework might be applied in the context of contemporary materials. This work developed through research in Clark’s archives and conversation with Lula Wanderley and Gina Ferreira, two psychotherapists trained by Clark in her Structuring the Self practice.

  • Liz Lessner, Director, Sensory Engagement Lab, Yes We Cannibal, Southeastern Louisiana University, Baton Rouge, USA. Liz Lessner is a sculptor whose work combines traditional fabrication techniques and emerging technologies to create novel sensory experiences. These often interactive objects stage encounters that reframe common occurrences and routine happenings. She was a 2019 Fulbright Scholar affiliated with the University of Fortaleza in Ceará, Brazil. Lessner has had solo shows at Honfleur Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Big Orbit, a Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Arts Project Space in Buffalo, NY; and an upcoming show at VisArts in Rockville, MD. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico, A.I.R. gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and Everard Read’s Circa Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Her research into embedded electronics’ ability to create novel sensory experiences has been supported by grants like the Mark Diamond Research Fund, fellowships like the Eyeo Artists Fellowship, and awards like a Fulbright Research Award. lizlessner.com