Synesthesia is an atmospheric, soft interface with an infrastructural core that allows no physical bodies inside but rather consumes them virtually. It is a manifestation of bodily data relationships abstracted and projected back to an analog domain. It promotes a multiplicitous idea of what it means to be human, to have agency, and creates a collective space that shifts the narrative of an agreed syntax of form to a spatial construct of a performance of bodies.
The unconscious, accidental, and curious performance of selves actuate a structured “veil”, a skin that serves as a responsive infrastructure. The structure invites, the body is pulled in, and in blinking patterns, our organs of perception are dynamically projected back onto the skin as abstracted images to shortly after disappear. Body and scene enter a mutual agency, a constant state of becoming. Our bodies reside inside the installation both temporarily and indefinitely as data. Synesthesia is an organ itself, a choreographed collection of organs projected, layered and superimposed on top of each other in a meshing of selves.
Synesthesia provides a rational and emotional sense of what it means to live among machines that converse and raises awareness on the design potential behind responsive environments. Understanding their nuances opens possibilities for critiquing space interactivity and offers opportunities for both historical reflection and prospective thinking as a response to the expanding use of computers, machines and automated objects in our daily lives.
The installation is a traveling experience that engages a variety of people, communities, and places, thus initiating ways of rethinking and engaging with the very notion of Public. As an uncurated event, it instantiates a public and a symbolic space that assumes exchange. The installation ́s afterlife moves beyond its physicality and amplifies the narratives and cultural interactions triggered by it.
Synesthesia is a living organism producing dynamic, unexpected, and sensorial experiences, never static nor predetermined. The community is the maker of the installation that comes to life only through their participation. The authors will be documenting the installation ́s trip and the diverse interactions with each community. This process has impacts far beyond the installation itself.
Synesthesia is the pilot to a series of interactive installations by the Synesthetic Research and Design Lab directed by Severino Alfonso and Loukia Tsafoulia at the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The Lab serves as a collaborative research and prototyping platform where interactive design and emergent mental health sciences meet, underlining the recursion between the individual and their environment. The installation is possible through the consultancy of experts and the collaboration with students across various disciplines at Thomas Jefferson University.
The project is made possible by the funding and support of the Provost Office and the office of Applied Research at Thomas Jefferson University as well as the Dean of the College of Architecture and the Build Environment at Thomas Jefferson University.
"Eye portals pierce the skin and provide a distorted glimpse of the inner workings of the mechanism."
"Our organs of perception are dynamically projected on the constructed veil as abstracted images to shortly after disappear.
Our bodies reside inside the installation both temporarily and indefinitely as data."
SEVERINO ALFONSO (principal)
OLIVIA BIRRITTERI, ABIGAIL KERN
INTERACTIVE SYSTEM COLLABORATORS
FABRIC PROTOTYPE COLLABORATORS
ANNE HAND, KIM ROSNER
STEFAN SCHMIDT, RODENKOPF
C.A.B.E. SPECIAL TOPICS COURSE STUDENT TEAM
Barbara Klinkhammer for embracing the idea and the warm support throughout.
Brian Squilla and Mark Tykocinski for their support and funding.
Turki Alhouti for supporting in the final installation process.
Lyn Godley, Kihong Ku, Michalis Polychronakis, Nathan Solomon, Jonathan Rodriguez and Chris Thompson for their consultancy at the early construction stages.
David Breiner, Matthew Gulbicki, Jeff Cromarty, and Stefanie Karp for the equipment and facilities support and coordination.
John Aquino, Evan Galiffa, Alexa Hayes, Brian Hickey, and Travis Huhn for the media, photography, and video support