The Body, Everywhere and Here

Lisa M Jamhoury

Today’s internet, made up of mostly text documents and two-dimensional images and videos, is the result of historical limitations in bandwidth, graphics processing and input devices. These limitations have made the internet a place where the mind goes, but the body cannot follow. Recent advances in motion capture devices, graphics processing, machine learning, bandwidth and browsers, however, are paving the way for the body to find its place online. This course will explore embodied interactions in the browser and across networks. Specifically, we’ll explore TensorFlow.js models like PoseNet and BodyPix, and Microsoft Kinect in p5.js and Three.js. Assignments will consider designing engaging embodied experiences for individual and social interactions online. Experience with Node, HTML and JavaScript is helpful but not required. ICM level programming experience is required.

The course will have weekly assignments that explore embodied interaction online. Assignments will begin with exploring single points of interaction (i.e. one mouse or one joint), and progress to considering full bodies and multiple bodies in one browser. Students will have a 2-3-week final project with which they will delve more deeply into the subject matter in one piece of work. Students will have readings/watchings focused on embodied and networked user experience. Some influential works that will likely be assigned/discussed are Laurie Anderson’s “Habeas Corpus,” Todd Rose’s “The End of Average,” and Myron Krueger’s “Artificial Reality.” The course examples will be taught in JavaScript using web technologies/frameworks. However, students are welcome to work in their preferred medium.