Dave Webb, a resident at The Studio, Bath Spa’s Enterprise and Innovation Hub talks about his project: The Studio Breathes
The Studio Breathes was conceived out of the lost sense of belonging, of being a resident in a space I could not access. I was inspired to create the app when, in a talk on her work, fellow resident, researcher and artist Ximena Alarcón explained the role of telematic breathing - how the remote presence of one participant could be felt by a distant other. This seemed a perfect motif that I could use for my project, to capture the breathing of one studio resident through their mobile phone, no matter where they were, and to send it over the internet to the studio, where, joined with others, it could become part of a greater whole.
In early experiments, using touch interactions on a mobile phone screen to trace each inhale and exhale, I realised that my breathing altered as I became aware of it. Typically it became slower and deeper, and this made me more calm and reflective. I discussed this effect with Bath yoga teacher, Georgie Bassford, and uncovered a whole world of tradition, health, and psychology around mind/body connections and wellbeing through breathing. It seemed that having a user’s attention focussed on themselves should not go to waste, so I asked Ximena to provide some inspirational invitations and reflections, based on her experiences in her own work, of prompting people to keep diaries. The short, poetic phrases she provided fitted perfectly, and I used a calming animation to present these words to the user via the app, during the experience of becoming present.
The overall aim is to provide a calm, reflective experience for studio residents through which they become virtually present at the studio, and for the studio to manifest that presence in a set of visualisations on a big screen.
Behind the poetic intention lies a more prosaic collection of technologies. A node.js server acts as a web server and provides a network connection between the remote users and the studio, capturing breathing as a set of numbers. Both the average rate of breathing and the rise and fall, different for each individual, are captured and sent. At the studio these cycles are visualised together in various themes using Processing - a programming language created for artists. The mobile web experience was created in p5.js, a graphical framework for the web, closely related to Processing.
Please take a few minutes to try the experience for yourself by visiting the.studiobreathes.org on your mobile (though it works on a desktop with the mouse as well). You can scan the QR code on your phone:
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