Talk by Thecla Schiphorst and Sarah Fdili Alaoui: Applying Somatic Techniques to User eXperience in Digital Art and HCI

Dr Thecla Schiphorst and Dr Sarah Fdili Alaoui will give a lecture entitled “Applying Somatic Techniques to User eXperience in digital art and HCI”

Friday 1st November, at 1:30pm
Goldsmiths College, Ben Pimlott Building, Lecture Theatre


Human movement has historically been approached as a functional component of interaction within HCI. This design approach reflects the task-oriented focus of early HCI research, which was preoccupied with ergonomics and efficiency. Yet movement is not solely functional, it is also highly experiential. As embodied organisms, movement is our primary means of accessing the world outside ourselves. It is the first language we learn and is integral to the formation of our cognitive and linguistic abilities, and is responsible for our “being in the world”. While human movement is ubiquitously present in all forms of technology interaction, movement expertise is often absent in the design of technology. In our work, we explore how movement expertise, as articulated in somatic techniques such as Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), can shape an interdisciplinary inquiry leading to the design and application of more richly articulated human movement knowledge within digital art and technology interaction.

In this seminar, we will present our ongoing research, illustrate it through three art works, Bodymaps, whisper[s], and soft(n), and summarize the emerging perspectives of the MovingStories research project (


theclaS_portraitThecla Schiphorst is a Media Artist/Designer and Faculty Member in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Her background in performance and computing forms the basis for her research, which focuses on, embodied interaction, sense-making, and the aesthetics of interaction. She is particularly interested in the poetic forms that cultivate affect, materiality and experience-modeling within human computer interaction. She is a member of the original design team that developed Life Forms, the computer compositional tool for choreography and has worked with Merce Cunningham since 1990 supporting his creation of new dance with the computer.She is the recipient of the 1998 PetroCanada award in New Media awarded biennially to a Canadian artist, by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her media art installations have been exhibited internationally in Europe, Canada, the United States and Asia in many venues including Ars Electronica, the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF), Future Physical, Siggraph, the Wexner Centre for the Arts, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, and the London ICA.

sarahFA_portraitSarah Fdili Alaoui is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Sarah holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Paris-Sud and the research institutes of IRCAM and LIMSI. She studied how movement qualities in dance can be modelled, computationally analysed and represented, and applied to the design of Human Computer Interaction. She has a Masters and Engineering Degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, as well as a background in ballet and contemporary dance. She is currently completing her qualification as a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) at the Laban/Bartienieff Institute for Movement Studies (LIMSI). Sarah is interested in bridging scientific and experiential research in the movement based arts to radically alter and affect our understanding of movement as a modality, strategy and method for transforming our understanding of human knowledge and cognition. She has been involved in many art and science projects, collaborating with dancers, visual artists, computer scientists and designers to create interactive systems for choreography, pedagogy and performance.