How do value-producing socio-technical processes synchronize, blend, diverge, interfere with one another? How do new phenomena — innovations, tactics, inventions — emerge, not merely as functions of the conditions at a single event nor even a set of discrete events, but from extended regions of durations and sociotechnical ensembles?

Overall Concept

Such questions can be asked of any biosocial complex system: cities, organizations, groups of people in movement, computational media. This project studies how these biosocial complex systems evolve, cohere, disintegrate, and most importantly generate novel pattern via a special attention to rhythm. For our purposes, rhythm can be described as the variation of material = energy + matter + media through different biosocial, physical and symbolic states. Understood this way, rhythm is not sonic, it does not have to be regular periodic, indeed it does not have to be unidimensional or any particular dimension at all.

Borrowing from Henri Lefebvre’s last book, a key feature of this rhythmanalytic approach is to respect the rich diversity of phenomena and not expect to come up with one-size-fits-all models. In particular, the rhythmanalytic approach is not a study of rhythm as abstract pattern, but a particular sensitivity to the dynamic aspects of the ever-changing world, as experienced. This attention to rhythmic features of cities, organizations, bodies, and media recognizes that the phenomena always will exceed any a priori frame of reference, that no model will adequately capture all the most interesting qualities of biosocial phenomena.


Time Lenses Apparatus

Time Lenses is an installation and research apparatus of multiple displays and cameras carefully placed in a physical location to refract activity into a suite of rhythmically recomposed movements. The work is not a performance but the condition of performance: it conditions the potential experience of an interior space such that ordinary activity can acquire poetic, rhythmic (musical) charge.

Palimpsest (Musée des arts et métiers Paris 2016). Julian Stein, Oana Suteu Khintirian, Todd Ingalls, Sha Xin Wei + Synthesis team. See Time Lenses project website.

Ensemble Gesture Experiment

We use responsive media to parameterize the conditions of our empirical work. Our primary apparatus for this work is the Ozone system, a “new media choreography system based on layered, continuous physical models, designed for building a diverse range of interactive spaces that coordinate arbitrary streams of video and audio synthesized in real-time response to continuous, concurrent activity by people in a live event.”  (Sha et al. 2010).

In our empirical events, we employ different sensing modes which allow a sensitivity to ensemble dynamics. We deploy wearable sensors such as gyroscopes, accelerometers to movers’ bodies to track a given parts orientation and change in speed. Other examples include EMG sensors, which give a sense of muscle tension. Overhead camera tracking allows for measures of motion across the floor; we employ computer vision techniques such as HS flow wit having to tokenize specific bodies. We also build digital/physical hybrid systems in which media feedbacks are created by the movement of physical system, as opposed to the human body.

Lanterns | Rhythmanalysis experiments (Synthesis iStage 2016-2018), Garrett L. Johnson + Synthesis team.

Lighting and Rhythm correlation experiments (Synthesis iStage 2014), Mike Krzyzaniak, Jessica Rajko, Julie Akerly, Varsha Iyengar + Synthesis team.


Research stream working archive:

**For more information on Ensemble Gesture, visit the project website.

**For broadsheet, click here.