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Tango as Toolpath

Obuchi Lab | The University of Tokyo

Studio research project


Surjyatapa Ray, Campbell Argenzio

This project is an investigation into how we might observe human bodies moving systematically in 3D space, break it down into steps, optimize it and reprogram or guide the bodies in motion according to desired outcomes. In this case we used Tango to design 3D, woven “canopy”  structures. We explore the use of off-the-shelf hardware like smartphone cameras, simple analysis methods like HSV tracking, and seeing old human behaviors with new eyes in order to utilize them in a digital fabrication process. 

The growing ubiquity of computer vision enables even architects to find clever ways of capturing and analyzing human behaviour like never before. As they Tango (or Salsa, or Milonga) each dancer wears a HSV  (Hue, Saturation, Value) tracker on their body that is visible at all times. Filming from above, a static camera records the dance in real time, picking up the moving HSV tracker. Optimizations are run, and new instruction can be given to the dancers to change the geometry.

Project Details

This process of generating form out of systemized movement was an exploratory step for us in working outside the current paradigm of typical Digital Fabrication processes. We did so to gain some understanding in how we may develop different methods of digital construction using accessible technology. This form exploration led us  to question methods of communication not just between the two partners  dancing, but between the dancers and the digital system itself. The optimization program generates feedback for the participants and influences their movements. This two-way communication could lead to a  higher level of collaboration between fabrication agents and the computer. Emergent forms derived from such non-linear real-time communication push the limit of current practices of digital fabrication. 

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