Thursday, September 12, 2019

Embodied Experiences

I popped by the Enabling Festival 2019 on 7th September, its their second run this year and their focus is on sound and since I was looking at sense-making, I wanted to understand more. This festival was to share how design, art and technology can help in enabling persons with dementia, their caregivers and to improve the quality of their life. I also wanted to understand the current initiatives and technologies that are improving quality life and mental health through art and music therapies.
This three-day community festival is a kaleidoscope of multidisciplinary activities in the areas of art, music, design, theatre, film, dance, medical forums and hands-on workshops. Through these programmes and activities, we hope to showcase the potentialities in enabling persons with dementia to enjoy a better quality of life. - Enable Asia
There were several booths set up at the event area and one of them was by Play HuaHee, they provide card games suitable for elderly to play in different ways, memory game and charades. Shiu Heng thought of contacting them for his residency few months back.
I attended the talk and discussion for Music & Arts in Caregiving. There was sharing on how music and arts can help care in dementia, through a video, we saw how a depressed and withdrawn elderly man in a nursing home became significantly spirited when a nurse gave him headphones that were playing his favourite genre of music. It helps to initiate conversation between the caregiver and him as he started singing, tapping beats and sharing his favourite songs and musicians from childhood. Music provides a way to connect and act as a therapy since verbal communication has become difficult.
I came across this Rocking Chair by Wellness Nordic which basically rocks you gently to slumberland. I tried it and its really effective. This chair is equipped with a sound system that plays curated calming music to ease one into sleep, it also provides a low vibration in the lower back for a gentle tactile stimulation. The chair comes with a weighted blanket to let user feel safe and secure and a U-cushion that curves around user to reinforce security and provide relaxation. However it costs 13000 euros so I was wondering if there is a possibility to make it more accessible and pocket friendly. 
I was at National Gallery Singapore that day as well and happened to come across this interactive installation as part of the Children's Biennale 2019. I shared this with Dana since her project focuses on children then I found out its actually by Andreas, which he also shared his design and research process in class the following week.
I was observing how kids reacted to the installation, they were all pretty fascinated but were quite lost on where to start and how to play so they started hitting and sitting on the different 'buttons'. Eventually the kids developed their own ways of interpreting play in the area based on their imagination. There were sensors that triggered parts of the installations and different sounds relating to the concept of Oort cloud and the Blue Mountain were generated too - crackling ice effect through leftover acrylic bits in a cylinder that was rotating which was pretty cool.

Andreas also showed us videos on the installation testing, how through trial and error they came to discover more interesting elements to include and certain things they could relook and improve. He wanted to let us know we could start small, be open to try different things, do many testings before our project morphs something larger and more impactful in time to come. From Andreas's installation and the Enabling Festival, I started thinking more about creating embodied experiences and phygital possibilities that can engage both mind and body.
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