whisper is a collaborative project of Thecla Schiphorst and Susan Kozel.


Thecla Schiphorst and Susan Kozel: whisper (textile research)

For the period June - July 2002 Thecla Schiphorst (CDN) & Susan Kozel (CDN/GB) were invited to further develop their project whisper at the V2_Lab and the Rotterdam City Theatre. The research done during the residency results in a participatory installation exhibited at DEAF03_Data Knitting.

whisper is a working title for a new media piece based on small wearable devices and handheld technologies. whisper[s] are wearable body architectures. whisper takes place in an installation space and on the web.

Participants enter an exhibition space, which can best be described as a networked ecosystem containing small intelligent devices, which emanate their state based on the wearer's movement and intention. At one end of the space is a projection screen upon which the collective interactions, the 'body' of the system state is projected and displayed. Up to 12 participants may move and browse in and out of the space with access to a set of devices which may be sewn into a jacket, hat, cape, or belt, be hanging from the grid above, or may be on the floor calling to be picked up. whisper devices are networked to a central whisper database server which constructs the system-state visualization transmitted both to the projection surface in the space, and to the web. The whisper devices create their narratives based on the interaction body they presently inhabit, and their own past lives.

whisper utilizes wearable computers and wireless computer communication, builds upon physical practices such as dance improvisation, and manifests cultural and scientific theories of embodiment. The technology and the physical vocabularies are to be developed synchronously. whisper is a participatory installation which generates and represents data flows in intimate connection with the bodies that produce and alter them. whisper unearths physical data patterns of the body, mapping that data onto linked and networked devices worn close to the surface of the skin. It appropriates the attention, the breath, the heartbeat of a community of performers and audience members, rewriting them as shared signals on the network. whisper borrows from biofeedback techniques to shift our attention back to the intimacy of the autonomic self. This piece uses wearable devices like displays, miniature speakers, matchbox webservers, and small vibrating motors and mechanisms. The materials to be incorporated into the device-design include highly tactile silks, latex, twine, rubber, knits and paper. These devices will resemble a cross between theatrical costumes and body sculpture.


whisper by Thecla Schiphorst & Susan Kozel (DEAF03) from V2_ on Vimeo.


Thecla Schiphorst (concept, system design and integration); Susan Kozel (performative environment concept and design); Kristina Andersen (conceptual and interaction design); Julie Tolmie (mathematical visualization); Norm Jaffe (software design and development); Sang Mah (creative development consultant); Andruid Kerne (system design, software design); Jan Erkke (hardware design and development); Robb Lovell (media design, software design and implementation); Laetitia Sonami (sound design); Grant Gregson (production manager); Diana Burgoyne (hardware implementation); Maryan Schiphorst (garment construction)

Stock (hardware design and implementation); Ruben de la Rive Box (intern); Anne Nigten (co-producer)

whisper is an artist in residence project of V2_Lab and Rotterdam Production House, with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Daniel Langlois Fondation, Future Physical, B.C. Arts Council, Simon Fraser University CFI Interactivity Lab, BC Advanced Systems Institute and Canarie.


Dutch text / Nederlands

Op uitnodiging van het V2_en de Rotterdamse Stadsschouwburg werkten Thecla Schiphorst en Susan Kozel van juni tot juli 2002 in Rotterdam aan hun onderzoeksproject whisper. Het resultaat van hun verblijf wordt gepresenteerd tijdens het festival in de Stadsschouwburg als de publieke installatie/performance whisper

whisper is een installatie die letterlijk door het publiek gedragen wordt: ze bestaat uit kleine draagbare apparaatjes en intelligente kledingstukken, die aan een netwerk zijn gekoppeld. Deze affectieve computertjes verzamelen fysiologische gegevens en signalen die door het lichaam worden voortgebracht en reageren daarop. whisper herschrijft het lichaam als een genetwerkt ecosysteem van gegevensstromen en informatie, waarbij ze het onzichtbare visualiseert.

Maximaal zes deelnemers kunnen zich in de whisperruimte begeven en de apparaten op hun huid bevestigen en de kledingstukken aantrekken. Zij komen zo in interactie met hun eigen lichaamsgevoel en zijn in staat om elkaars gegevens, zoals ademhaling, hartslag en hersengolven, te beleven, te delen en te interpreteren. De nabijheid, beweging en intenties van de deelnemers worden door het netwerk op intieme en ironische wijze zichtbaar en hoorbaar gemaakt.

whisper is een acroniem [wearable, handheld, intimate, sensory, personal, expectant, responsive system (draagbaar, handzaam, intiem, zintuiglijk, persoonlijk, verwachtingsvol, responsief)] en bouwt voort op fysieke praktijken als geïmproviseerde beweging. whisper is een manifestatie van culturele en wetenschappelijke theorieën over belichaming en wil verwante methodologieën in ontwerp, techniek en computerwetenschappen stimuleren en ermee experimenteren.

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