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Gestaltete Unmittelbarkeit. Atmosphärisches Erleben in einer affektiv-responsiven Umgebung

English title Designed immediacy. Atmospheric experience in an affective-responsive environment.
Applicant Heibach Christiane
Number 156977
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut Design- und Kunstforschung Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst FHNW Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
Institution of higher education University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (without UTE) - FHNW
Main discipline Arts
Start/End 01.02.2015 - 31.01.2017
Approved amount 150'000.00
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Keywords (7)

Extended Human Senses; Atmosphere; Responsive Environments; Embodied Experience; Biofeedback Technologies; Internet of Things; Affect

Lay Summary (German)

Die jüngsten Entwicklungen digitaler Technologien reagieren direkt auf menschliche Handlungen oder handeln sogar völlig eigenständig. Sie zielen dabei in erster Linie auf eine rein funktionale Verbesserung des Alltagskomforts und der Sicherheit ab. Das Projekt geht jedoch davon aus, dass diese Veränderungen entscheidende Auswirkungen auf das affektive, gesamtleibliche Erleben der Menschen haben und untersucht daher die atmosphärischen Qualitäten intelligenter Umgebungen.
Lay summary

Die Beziehung des Menschen zu den digitalen Technologien war bisher durch künstliche Schnittstellen geprägt. Doch in Konzepten wie dem „Smart Home“ verschwinden deren Funktionen in unseren Alltagsgegenständen und regulieren eigenständig unsere Lebenswelt. Technische Entwicklungen wie das ‚Internet of Things‘ und die Biosensorik integrieren den Menschen in technische Kreisläufe und verändern entscheidend die Atmosphäre, in der wir uns bewegen. Atmosphären geben dabei als teils unbewusst erlebte Empfindungen Aufschluss über den Charakter unserer Umgebung mit all ihren Akteuren. Von dieser affektiven und impliziten Eindrücklichkeit ausgehend wird eine künstlerisch gestaltete Umgebung geschaffen, in der die eingesetzten Technologien enge Rückkoppe­lungsbeziehungen zwischen Mensch und Raum aufbauen. Ziel des Projekts ist es, mittels verschiedener Methoden die atmosphärischen Qualitäten dieses responsiven Verhältnisses und dessen Konsequenzen für das menschliche Erleben zu erkunden.

Gesellschaftlicher und wissenschaftlicher Kontext

Das Projekt untersucht die neuen Technologien nicht aus einer analytisch-reflexiven Perspektive, sondern stellt deren affektives Potential in den Mittelpunkt. Im Zentrum des Interesses stehen die Auswirkungen ‚interfaceloser‘ Technologien auf unser Selbstverständnis als Mensch und die Gestaltung der Machtverhältnisse zwischen menschlichen und nicht-menschlichen Akteuren. Insofern bewegt sich das Projekt in einem gesellschaftlich hochrelevanten Feld, das die Konsequenzen neuer Technologien kritisch ausloten will.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.01.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Affect and Atmosphere in Controlled Responsive Environments.
Simon Andreas, Torpus Jan, Heibach Christiane, Navarro José (2016), Affect and Atmosphere in Controlled Responsive Environments., in Proceedings of the 16th Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, TorontoSpringer, Toronto.
Ambient Intelligence? Experiential Qualities of Reactive Environments
Torpus Jan, Heibach Christiane, Simon Andreas (2016), Ambient Intelligence? Experiential Qualities of Reactive Environments, in Ambiances, tomorrow. Proceedings of the 3rd Int.Congress on Ambiances, VolosUniversity of Thessaly, Volos, Greece.
Affective-responsive Environments
Torpus Jan, Simon Andreas (2015), Affective-responsive Environments, in ISEA 2014 Conferecnce Proceedings, DubaiZayed Univesity Books, Dubai.
Immersive Realitäten? Zur Wirkung verschwindender Technologien
Heibach Christiane, Immersive Realitäten? Zur Wirkung verschwindender Technologien, in Grabbe Lars (ed.), Büchner Verlag, Darmstadt.


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Univ.-Doz. Dr. habil. Madalina Diaconu, Universität Wien Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Philip Beesley, University of Waterloo Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Chris Salter, Erin Manning und Prof. David Howes, Hexagram, Concordia University Montreal Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Vera Bühlmann, Manuel Kretzer, CAAD ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Timon Beyes, Copenhagen Business School Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Sabine Himmelsbach, Haus für elektronische Künste, Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Holger Schnädelbach, Mixed Reality Laboratory, University of Nottingham Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Daniel Fetzner, Dr. Martin Dornberg, mbody Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
HCI 16 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction Talk given at a conference Affect and Atmosphere in Controlled Responsive Environments 19.08.2016 Toronto, Canada Torpus Jan; Simon Andreas; Heibach Christiane;
Immersion — Design — Art: Revisited. Transmedia Form Principles in Contemporary Art and Technology Talk given at a conference Immersive Realitäten? Zur Wirkung verschwindender Technologien. 19.05.2016 Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel, Germany Torpus Jan; Heibach Christiane;
Terms of Media Talk given at a conference Atmospheres of New Technologies. On an Artistic Research Project. 18.06.2015 Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany Heibach Christiane;
Ringvorlesung Kunsthochschule Mainz Individual talk Atmosphären neuer Technologien. Über ein Artistic Research Projekt. 09.06.2015 Mainz, Germany Heibach Christiane;

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Community in Progress Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 18.12.2015 Basel, Switzerland Heibach Christiane; Simon Andreas; Navarro José; Torpus Jan;

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
197845 Mitwelten. Medienökologische Infrastrukturen für Biodiversität 01.12.2020 Project funding
185436 Technologie - Mensch - Design: Paradigmen des Ubiquitous Computing 01.10.2019 Project funding


The primary objective of the project - conceived as an artistic research project - is to investigate the nature of medial atmospheres that emerge through the creation of an environment with the help of new digital technologies. On the one hand, we aim to identify the relevant criteria for the creation of such environments and to explore in which way these shape the specific experience of a given individual and her/his interaction with the environment. On the other hand, we aim to examine the nature of these experiences that involve the entire body, comprising psycho-physical, affective and partially pre- and subconscious processes, which are mostly perceived as “immediate” and “natural”, i.e. as unmediated and “first hand“. In turn, these processes also shape the way people behave or act in a specific situation.Our assumption is that these two questions are inextricably linked and merely represent different perspectives: If the definition of perception is extended to such a degree as to encompass experience, it cannot be understood as detached from the environment it refers to, and vice versa. It is precisely this interplay between experience and action in a given space or environment that has given rise to the term atmosphere, which is marked by the inseparability of subject and object and presupposes a fundamental immediacy of experience in psychophysical perception. Against this background, the project focuses on the following question: What exactly characterizes this experience - perceived as immediate - in high-tech environments with interfaces that can no longer be recognized as such? The focus is on biofeedback technologies, which are able to register and measure minimal somatic changes of the body - i.e. changes in heartbeat, skin conductance and respiration - as well as on ubiquitous computing technologies that make it possible to create responsive environments by means of intelligent artefacts. We aim to examine the implications of human-machine interaction in an artistically and experimentally designed physical setting, with regard to the following points: On the one hand, we will question the test-persons regarding changes in their individual experience, behaviour and actions in environments with pervasive and responsive technologies. On the other hand, we will examine the dimensions of consciously designed artistic-technical environments and their ability to control perception, i.e. the implicit manipulative potential of technologies that are (allegedly) geared entirely towards human needs.Investigating atmospheres is a fundamentally paradoxical process, which is why the project is to be regarded as a basic research project in the field of humanities: Firstly, atmosphere is a phenomenon that emerges from the experience of the individuals present in a certain place as well as from their interaction with the respective surrounding (be it medial, social or both). Secondly, the evaluation of subconscious dimensions of experience constitutes a major challenge for researchers applying classical sociological and ethnographical methods, because they usually depend on the subconscious being brought to the surface. Furthermore, the quantitative measuring of biofeedback involves a great deal of interpretation - thus we will also need to establish how and to which extent the data needs to be contextualized. Thirdly, the atmospheres in question are created by the research team and geared towards achieving certain reactions: The creative, technological and aesthetic process of designing spaces and possibilities of interaction will therefore have to be taken into consideration from the outset.