Final Project: Sensory Culture

Final project of the Seminar in Sensory Culture I attended in the Fall ’12 at RPI led by Ted Krueger which examined human perception from a designer’s perspective. It drew on perspectives from the sciences, arts, and humanities in order to build an understanding of how we perceive and interact with the environments we create.

“The visual tool is the most powerful and complex of human senses, able to create instant connections between the senses, generative of a multi-sensory experience, a more complete set of the real.

The ability to observe and identify the elements that make up the real result is a capacity not characterized by a simple physical factor inherent in the visual organ, as a more heterogeneous participation of factors associated with the perceptual methodology of the individual. The perception of reality, is strongly influenced by elements which are intimately linked to the experiential background of the individual, helps to provide the nec- essary components for a complete use of the visual aid. The deficit of the latter can be expressed not only as organ dysfunction, as well as the interruption of the constitutional process of the visual experience.

In this way blindness becomes a more complex form of the absence of one or more elements, that only if agents in a homogeneous and sequential allow man to understand the real and to interact with it. I believe that the visual tool is a tool characterized by a strong subjective component within its process, a tool that provides information to the man again according to an inward perspective, a perspective partial, not aseptic. Key im- portance in the process is taken from the stage of recognition and classification of input visual phase in which the individual man becomes an actor of his world by giving himself the meaning and conceptual relationships. Their own history, their own experiences in this way take control of perception guiding it according to their own dictates, deforming and proposing it in a new guise. In this way, one could say that that man defines objective reality, is not in fact so, but rather a continuous reinterpretation of the phenomena at the turn of the present, the past experiences and their projections into the future, a heterogeneous mixture of meanings in constant flux and as such only united by the time element.”

The goal of the project that I developed with my colleague Davide Scialò ( is to stimulate a multi-sensory experience in the actor, based on the absence of visual tool and on the ability to self adapt, to define and to understand the environment that surrounds him thanks hearing.

The project has been developed thanks to computation and in particular the collaboration of different digital tools like Rhinoceros, Grasshopper and MAX Msp as shown in the scheme below.


Thanks to the add-on Firefly for Grasshopper has been possible to bridge the gap between real and virtual space, connecting ReACTivision ( to Grasshopper, in order to transform the body motion data into digital coordinates. A virtual environment has been defined in Rhinoceros and used as framework of the digital motion.


The proximity data given by the visual rays and visualized through a gradient coloured mesh are remapped and sent via UDP to the sound design software MAX Msp and transformed into high frequencies for near obstacles and low frequencies for free space.


Thanks to MAX Msp has been possible to split the sound in the right and left headphones channel according to the position of the obstacles in the digital space. In this way the blinded actor manages to define and orient in the surrounding space.

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