Prototype: Sensing the Sun through Vibration

It’s almost a week that we are here in Southend on a short residency at Metal as part of the Digital Explorations programme. Lots going on, some of which is documented here. Below is a post on the prototype I’ve worked on the past two days (I’m copying what I’ve posted on Metal/DEC blog) .

I finished building the first prototype: a device that allows me to navigate the “lightscape” while feeling with my skin where the brightest direction is. This simple media system allows me to be affected by the Sun (and by light in general) through a different pathway. The idea is to experiment with the possibility of enabling a new sense, opening new channels of transmission between bodies.


It consists of four light sensors (one in each side of my body, one on my back and one under my chin), a microcontroller and three motors. The microcontroller is constantly comparing the values from the light sensors and deciding what’s the direction my body is receiving more light from. If it’s in front of me, nothing happens, an LED lights up for monitoring. If it comes from any of the other three directions then the right motor will vibrate giving me a sense of where to seek exposure.

I haven’t really had the time to play with it much but I did go for a little walk on the park. Surprisingly the experience was much more interesting than I thought. Before testing it I thought vision and haptic sensation would be both providing the same sort of information and therefore the latter would be redundant. In fact, as we all know, information is not independent from its medium. You cannot get the same information through different channels. Opening a new channel, you open to new information. Furthermore, very often I found myself visually disoriented with regards to where the brightest direction might be and the haptic sensation provided a very tactile and direct way of navigating light.


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  • Bio

    Olga carries practical and theoretical research in the field of media arts. She works as a co-editor with while she pursues a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths. Her research project looks into assemblages of sunlight, human bodies and machines. She is particularly interested on subtle modes of communication across bodies of radically different nature. She looks at the ways in which electronic circuits, computational systems, endocrine processes and neurological happenings intermingle. The tools she develops are speculations about the undercurrents of body communication.
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