Focus Artistic Research

Co-corporeality_responsive spaces in the era of Biomediality

Project lead: Barbara Imhof
Institute of Architecture
Project partners: Universität Wien, Fakultät für Chemie; Österreichische Studiengesellschaft f. Kybernetik (ÖSGK), Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Artificial Intelligence
Duration: 01.05.2019 - 31.10.2021
Austrian Science Fund (FWF): AR 534 Programm zur Entwicklung und Erschließung der Künste (PEEK)
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The arts based research Co-corporeality examines the necessity to conceive the built environment beyond its misconception as a mere ‚dead entity‘. The goal is to establish an interaction between a human and a living material, such as biological-polymers, in order to develop a responsive environment. This ‚performative architecture’ will then be able to interact, learn, grow and decay in relation to human presence and behavior. The research behind Co-corporeality spans between free ranging speculation and rigorous applied research within the domains of material studies, cognitive sciences and performative architecture, and will be explored from three different perspectives: The first approach develops a series of responsive materials able to sense the environment and interact with a human. The second reflects on the design of behavioral interfaces, using non-verbal communication (e.g. touch, body movement, human presence and eye contact) to evoke changes and responses within the material. Thirdly, the project aims to explore architectural speculations through the production of full-scale proto-architectural installations. Co-corporeality proposes new aesthetical and technological approaches that stem from the need to re-discuss the role of material systems within architecture. This need arises from essential questions and reformulations of the terms nature and ecology brought up by synthetic biology, genetic engineering and cloning. In opposition to conventional building materials, “living materials” such as biological-polymers, have the capability to be tailored and programmed in relation to the environment or specific needs. They represent an opportunity to re-invent the built environment as “biological entity” and change the way we understand, observe and communicate with the built space. Until now, there has been no fundamental architectural research into how these theories and technologies can enable a meaningful engagement between two biological systems and in what way it would change our perception of architectural space. By investigating the possibilities to infuse contemporary architecture with living functions through the use of bio materials, Co-corporeality will use new fabrication methodologies and novel sensor systems to create a radical new approach towards responsive and immersive environments. The project setting brings together different institutions, disciplines and experts to develop an interdisciplinary arts-based research team, linking the University of Applied Arts (Barbara Imhof, Daniela Mitterberger, Tiziano Derme, et al.) with its national research partners The University of Vienna, Department of Material Engineering (Alexander Bismarck, Andreas Mautner, et al.) and the Austrian Institute of Artificial Intelligence (Robert Trappl, et al.) creating an interdisciplinary research group to undertake ground-breaking art and technology research.