Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feeling your way through urban space

Erik Conrad's 'Palpable City' project allows you to 'feel' your way through space, by augmenting our optical sense with tactile stimulation:
"Palpable City is a site specific installation that transforms an everyday walk through the city into an exploration of a new tactile landscape. Participants wear a vest outfitted with a GPS, some custom hardware and software, and an array of vibrotactile actuators (vibrating pager motors) that are sewn into the vest. As they walk, they encounter varying vibrotactile patterns--changes in rhythm, location or intensity--dependent upon their location. The tactile 'textures' change in relation to the spatial form of their immediate environment. As they walk, and the shape of the 'empty' space around them changes, participants experience new rhythms of the city as tactile sensations generated by the vest."
Erik has designed a system that maps the tactile sensations produced as you walk through a space. His Palpable City page has a range of different maps that represent these sensations, including an interactive one which can be used to follow a particular walk through a cityscape, and to track the optical and tactile perspectives produced by this space. 

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