Eyebeam Workshop: The Body as Interface

The debate of the body as interface versus the body’s rejection to being an interface has been the ongoing focus of my research.  What does it mean to have technology on the body? What assumptions do people make about the body regarding wearable technology?

 Last Saturday, I went to Xin Liu’s workshop “Body as Interface” at Eyebeam’s Seaport location. The workshop proposed a way to “turn your body into a digital interface with conductive ink and a wearable air mouse.” We used wires, fabric, needles, thread, solder, soldering iron, hacked an air mouse and conductive ink from Adafruit. We created a wearable mouse controller that was connected to conductive ink painted onto the skin. The workshop was an unsettling experience regarding wearable technology and technologies applied to the body. The words of John Pavlus kept echoing in my mind as I soldered my wires onto the board: “Your body isn’t a tool for delivering your experience: it is your experience. Merging the body with a technological control surface doesn’t magically transform the act of manipulating that surface into bodily experience.”  However, the "body as canvas” has long been seen throughout history of tribal tattoos applied by the "advanced" technology of that specific time and era. 

The following observations and questions were noted:

  1. What human gestures would be the equivalent to computer commands such as left click or right click?
  2. Could this workshop be a quick prototype for gesture study?
  3. The workshop encouraged an introduction to understanding the basics of circuits (positive and negative charge).
  4.  The workshop does not provide a permanent solution to wearable technology nor strong evidence that supports a deeper understanding to why technology is applied onto the body. (i.e- using conductive ink which dries off or cracks easily)
  5. There was too much concentration on the making process rather than asking critical questions on technology for the body.
  6. The workshop accompanied a broad audience from amateur to professional experience with circuits.