Thesis – MFA Design and Technology

Here is the ongoing process of my thesis. This project is called “The Part and the Whole” and it’s an interactive Installation to let people experience complexity and rule-based systems. This installation is a journey into the beauty of complexity and our role within it. The user will be at the mercy of complexity thanks to a wearable device that will control his/her movements according to the ruled-based system behavior. With this installation I want to rise awareness of the role of complexity in modifying, altering and conditioning our behavior.


My idea is an installation that reverse the common interaction between the user and the installation (where the user modify the environment with gestures or behaviors). In my idea the installation manipulates the user and influences his/her body. As complexity does on a different scale.


Before my studies on complexity, and so before my MFA in systems design, I used to look at flocks of birds asking myself who was the leader, how could they be so perfectly coordinated? It doesn’t have a central brain but it can learn and make decisions, so where is the intelligence? Then I realized that looking for a leader was wrong, because their direction depends on the interaction among them. And I also realized that what makes humans limited is our incapability of imaging society as a result of behaviors not only the sum of people, and that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts as Aristotele said.

Is it possible to shrink the scale of complexity and reveal rules and patterns in which we are immersed?
How to make complexity experienceable and understandable by people?
Is it possible to let people experience how the individual is related to the collectivity and how the collectivity influences us and our free will ?
How can I represent this immense invisible power that governs us? And why is this important?


It is important because An organ is a system of cells, a human body is a system of organs, a neighborhood is a system of human bodies, a city is a system of neighborhoods, and so on. It is important because understanding complexity means understanding life and our role within it.


This project aims to be an installation where a rule based system (like a flock or a particle system) is projected on the walls of a room. The user would be pushed to move according to the system’s direction.
So I Started to think about how this could be possible? How can I move a body? How can I apply forces to a body?
How can i make the installation control a person?


After some research I started to investigate the possibility of using a Galvanic Vestibular Simulator through which the installation would force the user into the direction of the flock by modifying his balance perception.Galvanic vestibular stimulation is the process of sending specific electric messages to a nerve in the ear that maintains balance.
By manipulating the user’s body and letting him/her be at the mercy of the system I could make complexity tangible and represent how the individual is influenced by the collectivity and the environment in which we are immersed. So I want to manipulate user’s behavior through the installation, and let the user be at the mercy of complexity to make a tangible representation of how the individual is influenced by the collectivity and the environment in which we are immersed.