Sci Art project – Interactive Design

Initial thoughts:

Initially, I and Sravanthi having come here to Manchester to do our masters far away from home, we always missed our parents, friends and everything that we had or did back in our country and home. With this heavy heart, we decided to collaborate and create an artwork which would portray memories. Our initial thoughts were to create a vintage mechanical time machine sort of an artwork which would portray memories where ever you are and can be used in any place at any point of time.

But as we got involved in our MFA projects and research, we felt like creating something that would reflect on the subject that we are studying and to experiment with something that is unique and more practical. We put in a lot of thought and then decided to combine both of our MFA research topics and create something out of it.

My research focuses on space and the user interference and its effects on the user. Whereas Sravanthi’s research focus on the importance of light in a design. Keeping this as a foundation for our Sci-Art project, we have decided to work on an interactive design material.

As designer’s we focus on the set rules, usage and the aesthetics of the object or space that we design. And we expect the user using the space to make modifications to his habits and get adjusted to space or the object. For example, a table is designed keeping in mind the ergonomics of a human and anthropometrics. But the needs of the person varies from individual to individual. So in order to make the product more useful and realistic, what if we create an object that would get adjusted to its user and his needs. How would it be if the object responds to its user and changes accordingly to its user?

What is Interactive art?

Interactive art is a form of art which involves the observer or the audience in a certain way for the art to achieve its end result. It is a form of art which allows the audience to become a part of the artwork.

Interactive art usually works with the help of a computer program, circuits or sensors to respond to the external force such as touch, heat, light etc. Interactive art needs certain form of input to receive the desired output. It is only viewed and experienced better when it has a responsive environment. The response each audience receive is different based on how they see and interactive with the art work. Interactive art usually works on the principle of perceptions.

The earliest examples of interactive art were created in the early 1920s. The best example of one such art is a piece named Rotary Glass Plates by Marcel Duchamp’s, where the viewer had to interact with the machine by turning it and standing at a distance to view the final output.


Rotary Glass Plates by Marcel Duchamp (source: Yale University Art Gallery, 1920:online)


In 1990s artist began using technology for their artworks. That was when a new era of unique art experience began. These art works saw a huge response from the audience, that the museums and galleries began to set up shows and some also dedicated the entire space to exhibit these artworks.


Osmosis Interactive Arena by Arik Levy (Source: Chalcraft, 2012:online)


Spiraling Light Portal made of 960 bulbs by Carsten Hller (Source: online)


Walk the light at the Victoria & Albert Museum (Source: dommeruk, 2016:0nline)


The interactive artwork has given rise to new set of works such as installation art, interactive architecture, interactive film etc. There are also a number of significant festivals and exhibitions set up globally to exhibit these interactive art. Among which the major ones are: Prix Arc Electronica, Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Graphics, DEAF – Germany, FILE – Brazil and AV Festival England.


To bring this idea of interactive design into effect, we are developing and experimenting with a material which reacts to the human touch and changes its shape and produces light as it adapts a new shape. The hypothesis of this material is based on the behaviour of Touch-me-not plant (Mimosa pudica).

Touch me not plant – The plant shows a peculiar type of movement in response to the stimulus of touch. The leaves of the plant have a swollen base called pulvinus. When the leaves receive the stimulus of touch, a chemical is released which travels up to each pilvinus. On receiving this chemical, the inner cells of the pulvinus undergo exo-osmosis, i.e; they lose water and become flaccid. This results in closing up of the two opposite leaves. This movement shown by the leaves is called as thigmonasty.


Thigmonasty in touch me not plant (Source: online)


In the same fashion, our material would change its shape when it comes in contact with the human touch and glows. And when not in contact with the human body, it retains its original position or shape. So here the physical force is the human touch, the reaction which happens and the changes made to the object with the help of the circuits are similar to the chemical reaction in the plant and the change in the shape of the object refers to the exo-osmosis and closing of the leaves.

As far as now we are working on different origami shapes to generate a shape to the material which gives it an aesthetically appealing appearance. Further, we are planning to look into light sensor and touch sensor circuits to make the object work.


Origami means the art of folding paper, where Ori means folding and gami means paper. The ideology behind origami is to transmute a flat surface into a 3d object using the folding techniques. Origami is a traditional Japanese art, which is been practiced since the Edo period. This technique of origami is is widely practiced in various fields.


The Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi feature the world’s largest computerized dynamic facade with is influenced by Art of Origami. (Source: AL BAHR TOWERS, 2016:online)



As now for the exhibition on 23rd Feb 2016,due to the time constrain we are looking into developing a model to explain the concept and to understand how the material might look. But we wish to develop a working model hopefully by the end of our MFA practice.



Stern, N. 2013, Interactive art and embodiment: the implicit body as performance, Gylphi, Canterbury.

Chalcraft, E. (2012) Osmosis interactive arena by Arik levy at the design museum. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

dommeruk (2016) Cinimod studio Ltd. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Spiraling light portal made of 960 bulbs (2012) Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Seegers, C. (no date) Optical Experimenst and Anémic Cinéma. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

Interactive art (2017) in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Mimosa leaf (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 29 December 2016).

Ashish, Deshpande, M., Staughton, J., Pradhan, R. and D’mello, B. (2016) Why do touch-me-not (Mimosa Pudica) leaves close when touched? Available at: (Accessed: 29 December 2016).

Thigmonasty (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Brains, B. (2009) Experiment: Sensitive Mimosa Electrophysiology. Available at: (Accessed: 2 January 2017).

Negar Kalantar (2015) TranSTUDIO-adaptive thought design and fabrication- Texas A&M – instructor: Negar Kalantar. Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2017).

USPTOvideo (2016) Science of innovation: Origami structures. Available at: (Accessed: 5 January 2017).

AL BAHR TOWERS (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 16 January 2017).

Rocio (2016) KINETIC ARCHITECTURE – COOLING BUILDINGS. Available at: (Accessed: 16 January 2017).


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