Becky Stern ‘Laptop Compubody Sock’

This is a reflection on excerpts from Madeline Schwartzman’s See Yourself Sensing – Environments and Reframing. From Maltaf’s work, it gives us the sense of experiencing the objects inside the environment and the external environment itself – in two faces – how does it cause sensation to one’s outside self and inside. Essentially we need to understand experience in four interactions or dimensional mappings – the environments internal and external effects on our inside and outside. This gives important to perspective and point of view on how different people can sense or experience different things based on their perspective among the many dimensional mappings.

Environments come in vastly diferent scales, shapes, and materials and they trigger perception using range of mechanisms.

By decreasing, muffling, or snubbing one sense of the human body, it enhances or in some way affect rest of the senses. Not just that, but it simply makes us aware of the use and impact and the very presence of these senses. This, in my opinion, is an important aspect while designing and prototyping for humans. Our prototypes can sometimes be made to just focus on particular necessary senses, one at a time.

The author speaks about the perception of responsive environments. I think the future of environments around us, is that the environments themselves will be connected to the to the tools and gadgets that live on the human person – that’s going to affect the sensory experience and generate these user experiences. These experience could be like an indoor house with green walls or vertical gardens all over, that naturally keeps some sort of airconditioning? How is that going to affect the way we breathe? Escalators all over on our roads and there are no such ‘tar roads’ anymore?  How will we experience friction on our feet or will we lose all sensation of pushing ourselves to walk?

The many examples in the art forms and these design pieces also give an important stress on ‘materials’. Styrofoam, plastic, glass, tendrils, thick and thin materials, the feeling of delicateness or strength when you touch them, etc. Therefore it’s clear that when we design products physical or otherwise, we not only need to make sure of all the senses of the human but also all the senses of the product – its color, material, feel, texture, weight, tension, elasticity, rigidity, and so on. It’s these senses of the product that will affect the senses of the users. A wooden wheel would work, but not as great as a rubber one.

Beyond the five senses, the one sense that overrides all is the energy of the mind – the sensation that flows from the mind to the eyelashes, to the fingertips or to the pressure on our heels. For example – during air turbulence when you don’t see anything unusual inside or outside the plane, but you feel that you have dipped and you sense the vibration in your heart and the sinking of your heart and the force of gravity becomes so close to as if it’s touching you, or pulling you down or grabbing your stomach from inside.

For someone like me who is interested in working with interaction and interfaces, sensing is not just vital, I believe it is the entire deal. Also, when looking at user interfaces, they have evolved from being just visual to completely sensory, with touch, emotion, sound, video, 3D, VR, among others – where the focus is not just the eyes or the ears but how the product places itself to make your entire body react or feel.
To conclude, Becky Stern ‘Laptop Compubody Sock’ has struck a chord with me a lot – on how she visualizes and reframes an environment that’s actually there but one can’t see it, and the experience of using the laptop is literally like as if our eyes and hands are locked within that sock.