One of the natural forces regulating life on earth most is gravity. Defined according to Newton’s Law as the force of attraction between bodies that have mass, we hardly seem to pause and contemplate this mundane fact of physics. Any child knows that when you drop something it will fall down to the earth and not float in mid-air. Grappling with earth’s gravity however, does pervade our everyday life, be that in the way we design objects, build our buildings, practice sports or transport ourselves.
Seiko Mikami’s and Sota Ichikawa’s responsive audio-visual environment ‘gravicells’ – Gravity and Resistance Project takes up the issue of gravity in relation to our bodies. Starting from the premise that gravity is not materialized without a counter force, i.e. resistance, Mikami and Ichikawa have designed a dynamic mixed reality space where the rub between the powers of gravity and resistance can be experienced physically by the visitors. The deconstruction of these natural phenomena shifts the visitor’s habitual sense of gravity, and hence alters the perception of one’s body in space.
All movements and changes made by participating visitors are transformed real-time into the movements of sound, light (LED) and geometrical images through the sensors, so that the whole space develops or changes in this interactive installation. The moment a participant stands and moves on the unsteady sensor-fitted floor, the variation of position, weight, and speed is automatically and continuously measured, analyzed, and translated into audio-visual representation, which generate substantial spatial changes. Overlapping with the real physical space, the computerized space reconstructs the spatial geometry, and distorts the coordinates through the participant’s weight and position. In addition, the position of the exhibition space is simultaneously measured by GPS, and with plural linked GPS satellites as part of the work it involves several observation points outside of the earth. By corollary the area of our perception has expanded, and confronts us with the fact that the installation site is moving relative to gravity as well.
In ‘gravicells’ – Gravity and Resistance Project gravity is used as a perceptive interface, and has to effect that it makes us conscious in a synaesthetic way of the natural forces surrounding us. As players we become autonomous cells in a larger system susceptible to the dynamics of gravity and resistance. By playing with two opposing forces we become aware of the potential and constraints the latter hold.