The aesthetics of physical exploration

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How do we remember where we put the coffee cup and how come we are able to point at our nose  while having our eyes closed?

Proprioception, the capability of a human being to always know where his/ her body is, makes sure that when we use movement we relate to that action - we have an unconscious memory of where we put the coffee cup.

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It works excellently in the real physical world. In the digital world, however, this quality is lacking.

If you move a file to a new folder in a computer you need some sort of mnemonic device to tell you where it is. You need to have some kind of a mental model in your head of how the structure of the files is organized. You need to be told by the design how that structure works. For a long time, the job of interaction designers has been to design interfaces that teach users and make it easier for them to navigate their way through these mental models of systems.

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At Gagarin, we inhabit a very different interactive space in which experience is so important that we cannot begin by teaching the visitor about underlying structures or mental models. In order to take the visitor directly into a rewarding experience, we utilise a number of strategies to make everything more intuitive and playful.

One of the strategies we use is to be constantly aware of this powerful overlooked sense of proprioception, and the knowledge of our own body.

“We empower our visitors through proprioception by using tangible objects to move data.”

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Visitors interact with our installations by moving their bodies and moving real things. As a result, they do not have to think about where they are in a menu system or how to get back to where they were. The installations lend themselves to physical exploration and as such can be understood physically, and then remembered with aid of muscle memory.

Created 08 January 2014