space-time association


Yon Visell : Projects

Transit-Embrace : Dynamic Inflatable Passages

Transient Embrace : Living Passages

Karmen Franinovic


As we walk through the city we produce space through the kinesthetic rhythms of our bodies. However our movements are limited, directed and guided by the spatial design and contents of our urban surroundings. Walls direct our movements of body, values conduct our movements of thought. Can we reconstruct the space of urban flows as we enact it?

We posit a garden of inflatable modules that act as metabolic machines, brought alive through human interaction, and articulating their soft boundaries. They constitute an architecture with a double movement. They embrace citizens' bodies and their relations, creating new contexts for social interaction, and they extend the same bodies into space, an invitation to touch or feel.

Alive rather than zoomorphic, they are meant to generate new relations with their inhabitants. The colors, shadows, and sounds intensify space, nearness, touch, connectedness. Citizens co-inhabit and co-structure a network of morphing architectures. The dynamics shift action toward continuous perceptual diversions.

Inverse Transit

A field of large kinetic inflatable modules shapes the space of flow through which people may navigate or wander. Each presents a closed body incorporating several sensitive areas that provide passages between modules. Modules are activated by movement between them, and capable of transmitting activity through the network of modules.

Movement-activity is recapitulated by space. Passages become tighter, as the surrounding mass swells when the movement between them is larger. They shrink and dilate when traffic is low, inverting conventional space-design. As one side inflates, the other contracts, closing established passages, and opening new ones.

One might squeeze through a narrow gap, and discover halfway through another person who had been hidden, or find one self contained in a temporary space with strangers, as passages close due to the flow of others in the environment. Accidents allow for the construction of temporary, semi-private space in which interaction between strangers may occur. In order to shape and negotiate the space, cooperation and understanding of the behavior of the environment will be needed. These in turn will allow one to shape the passage itself.

The dynamics are such that, like a sieve, fast passage of crowds through the space is difficult. At the same time, it is impossible for one person to shape the environment statically to her desire. One group is needed to create a temporary enclosed space. Equally, others may open it by passing by. Space constantly moves in adaptation, its function shifting between transition and gathering.

Relational Structures

Spaces of embrace
Spaces of transit
Inflatable modules, nervous systems, and synaptic zones.


Connectivity and propagation of soft media

The inflatable modules form a tissue which carries sensations and intensities, producing a shared sensorial atmosphere. Sensate zones at the module's surface are edge nodes in the nervous system of the environment. The temporary inhabitants of this network activate its sensorial atmosphere through their presence and movement. By spanning gaps in the network, they bring it alive, and enable the transformation of intangible elements of space, such as light and sound (whispers). Sensate regions at the surface of the module are edge nodes in the nervous system of the environment. Feeding off of human touch, they capture the voices and textures of those nearby. These sounds and colors are returned to the environment when a connection between bodies at a synapse-like gap has been forged, causing the soft bodies to glow, mimicing the acquired textures of past inhabitants, and echoing what was overheard softly. These sensations move onward through the nervous system of the network of modules, causing color and sound to propagate outward (and perhaps back again) in response to touch, and only gradually fading with the impression they have absorbed from their visitors.


Synaptic interface with person
(discrete sensing zones)

The increasingly stressful urban climate may benefit from the creation of new spaces that engender encounters that are not interest based, but accidental and lingering (as the situationists observed). Function is substituted by the surprise. Experiences shaped according to efficiency and linear perspective are replaced by labyrinthine paths, or fluid touch, and the general urban rush may be subjected to an unconscious slowing down. In such condensed space, body and architecture are folded into each other, their (soft) boundaries and nervous systems mixed though epidermal, layered interactions. Collective architectural-human bodies activate and dissolve into sensation and soft matter.

Technical Description and Logistics

Different concept: Skin interface with person
(continuous sensing zone)

Coming soon...

Related (Prior) Works

Two prior works sharing some affinities with this project:

See also other projects of Karmen Franinovic.

Artistic Statement

My work engages the citizens with the tensions and constraints of built urban environment. I seek to inspire people to engage with the spaces they live in and to realize how spatial structures direct and conduct their movements in everyday life. I attempt to show that interactive technologies, when creatively applied to the domain of physical encounters, can qualitatively change relations between human and its environment, between strangers in public space and finally between citizen and state, spanning several scales. Physical interaction brings us in direct contact with the world, making public issues and shared responsibility tangible. Direct encounters and interaction with urban inertias, challenge not only established spatial practices, but sedimented behavior structures and social relations as well. By moving the focus from passive use and consumption of public space and social values, to modes of active transformation of the information/matter of which urban space is composed, we mobilize the city on the molecular level.

The result is an in-between space of encounters, a public space in which pluralities meet, powers shift and act together recombined. Rather than promoting the city as a space for statements (such as the vote or demonstration), new modes of interactivity help us transform representational spaces into space for encounters and active urban events. To abandon representation means to challenge powers and identities, and to promote collective transformation of reality. The experience of the audience changes from one of passive exposure to one of active engagement and co-creation of the artistic content. Values are not directly addressed in the artwork: they emerge from the sensorial and social ecologies it enables.