[ISEA2020] Paper: Rewa Wright & Simon Howden — Tactile Potentials: A Mixed Reality Project for Live Performance


Keywords: Critical Plant Studies, Mixed Reality Performance, Software Assemblage, Ecomaterialism, Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Touch Designer, Unity3D, Leap Motion, MIDI Sprout

Tactile Potentials is an ongoing practice-based research project, based in Sydney, Australia. It exists in several iterations as both a visitor interaction and a live performance. This research develops techniques for affectively co-composing with expressive conjunctions of augmented materials (both digital and organic), including: recursive strategies for modulating digital augments using touch, amplifications of bio-electrical data from plants to produce augmented audio, choreographing hand micro-gestures in tactile and signaletic connections with both augments and plants, and passing augments between the Leap Motion interface, Unity3D and Touch Designer.

  • Rewa Wright (the University of Newcastle, UK) has been working with augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR) since 2012, and has 20 years of experience in various aspects of photographic, moving, and virtual image creation. They weave together theory and practice in philosophy, cyberfeminism, interaction design, technoculture, camera-less photography, and artificial vision technologies with living plants and custom built software to examine the conditions of our relationship to computation, ecology and the body. Rewa is Māori from Ngati Taweke/Te Rarawa/Te Uri o Hau hapu of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Indigenous practices are emergent in their mixed reality performances that incorporate and adapt gestures from traditional dance, and permeate an investigation of plant-data-body ecologies. Rewa’s most recent XR project was curating and co-designing (with 13 other artists from Australia and Aotearoa/NZ) the FASTlab Performance Experiment, a network of webXR rooms that was part of the Ars Electronica Newcastle Garden (9-13 September 2020). It is still live here: keplersgardens.info/project/5c1fa39a-b2d2-44f9-bc03-0b3f897a4cca.
  • With independent artist Simon Howden, Rewa likes to weave together ephemeral sonic signals to nurture the restless mind. As the duo Uncalculated, they connect bespoke software and hardware interfaces to real-time systems for co-creating with data and plants, also extending perception as a hallucinatory phenomena. More about us at rewawright.com