In-Studio Development

This side-by-side comparison shows how the in-studio development of the performing bodies influenced the movement in the XITY AR application.

Multiple elements were at play in our in-studio development for the XITY AR application: material, movement, and a new layer of soundscape. Building on from the chosen working material of paper, the team explored using various types of paper with varying levels of rigidity. The final result of the XITY AR would involve translating the body's movement into an Augmented Reality animation of paper entities, in response to a given curated soundscape of urban perspectives.

Stage 1: Paper Manipulation (Hands)
Starting with the haptic (i.e. transmitting and understanding information through touch) engagement of paper with the artists' hands, the team tested out how actions such as twisting the paper, applying varying finger pressures could result in different traces of movement being archived on the paper. This would be a further development from the origami explorations in Phase 2.

Stage 2: Exploring Vertical, Cylindrical, Spherical Relationships between Cities and Inhabitants
Interspersing the explorations of paper manipulation were further discussions on different relationships between cities and their inhabitants. These ranged from encounters with city grids and urban density, investigating the blueprints of urban planning and development, as well as considering the differences between following (or not following) historical and digital traces of cities. How could we deconstruct these different relations and re-present them with both materials, movements and on an Augmented Reality platform?

The Symphony of Lights and Lives

One captivating example of how we view buildings involved the element of lighting: what if we could peer into people's windows and lives? For instance, how often have we wondered what goes on in the lives of office workers in the Central Business District looking up into the skyscrapers? When we survey the apartment units in our residential areas, the lights that are switched on (and off) reveal hidden presences and absences, and this symphony of lights and lives proved fascinating to the team. 

Synthesizing the Vertical, Cylindrical, Spherical Relationships
From the explorations with paper, the team observed various shapes that were developed: vertical candle-like structures, cylindrical pipe and tube-like structures, as well as the spherical and globular-like crumples of paper balls. 

The synthesis of the different conceptual and experiential explorations of the city, would then be integrated together with these emerging clusters of shapes, sealed together with the next element: sound. 

Stage 3: Enter the City Soundscape

Key Reference: HSBC Sounds of Home
Through their research and exploration, the team discovered HSBC's Sounds of Home project, where they curated "a series of global soundscapes designed to help students venturing abroad feel connected to home." 

Inspired by HSBC's effort, conceptualiser Matthew Goh looked towards developing soundscapes that could integrate both self-recorded and found audio soundscape, in order to create an abstraction of cityscapes for the artists to further development material and movement encounters with the paper entities. This would help conjure and invoke the sense of what Devan Sudjic calls the city as a "living organism" through the AR application, given that the end-user is likely to be activating the application within a cityspace themselves. 

Based on the XITY AR application, what different sounds can you identify from the three XITY perspectives? 

Stage 4: Re-enter the Body 

One key difference between HSBC's Sounds of Home and XITY was that there would be no accompanying videos of different inhabitants' lives. Conceptualiser Matthew Goh also decided that there would be no physical representation of a body present. Instead, the body would be visually removed, but its traces of movement and its archive would be retained in the material that is presented on the XITY app. 

Thus, given that there would no hands manipulating paper in the XITY AR, the team explored what could happen if the paper could crumple, fold, stand tall by itself? 

This led the team to develop explorations where the entire body would be enveloped by various paper entities, such that the body is already encompassed by the paper, and the exterior effect is one of self-activation: the paper sculptures are literally animated by a body.


Finally, the removal of the body in the AR application would then suggest the confluence of city-inhabitant experiences that converge in the Vertical, Cylindrical and Spherical perspectives, and they continue to be amorphous although they are originally transformed by individual bodies.

Click here to view the AR application in its final version.


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