Baotaz: Interconnected Brain, Augmented Sense-ability

Baotaz: Interconnected Brain, Augmented Sense-ability

In Articles — by Oriana Persico  — 3.09.2016

What is BAOTAZ? Here some words about BAOTAZ process which has been conceived during La Cura Summer School from August 22nd to August 26th 2016, at ISIA Firenze (Italy) thanks to a transdisciplinary crew of artists, researchers, designers, philosophers, engineers, physicists, lawyers, architects, computer scientists, poets and thinkers.

This article appeared originally on Art is Open Source.


This September 3rd and 4th we will present BAOTAZ, a collaborative project through which we merged arts, sciences and technologies to formulate an hypothesis to create new models of interconnection among people and places, globally: a new augmented sense, a new sense-ability. In Milan, at La Triennale di Milano, at Condividi la Conoscenza.

The interconnected BAOTAZ Brain

During La Cura Summer School we came together with people from across the world and disciplines to research the implications of interconnectivity, to attempt at designing an augmented sense, a technological tactility through which we could investigate ways in which people could meaningfully, autonomously and meaningfully connect with one another globally.


We came across issues which are technological, cultural, psychological, legal, anthropological, aesthetic, philosophical and perceptive. We enacted a trans-disciplinary process in which all sorts of contribution came together to discuss, design and create.


From sensibility to sense-ability.


The results of this process will be presented at La Triennale di Milano in occasion of Condividi La Conoscenza, at the Expogate in Milan, on September 3rd and 4th.


The results come under multiple forms:


> an interactive installation which draws enormous amounts of data and information from social networks about people’s expressions and represents them physically in real-time, as an interconnected brain;


>an augmented sense, under the form of a wearable device which creates a new tactility which is sensible to diffused, global phenomena, represented by people’s expressions and emotional responses;


>a real-time information visualization in which the millions of expressions about “inhabiting the planet” are brought in the public space of the city, transforming the experience of citizenship;


>an ongoing collaborative process through which these actions will not end with the exhibit at La Triennale, but will form a knowledge commons which will be collectively managed to foster inclusive researches in arts, design, sciences, technologies and society; this is Baotaz, a meta-brand, an open-source brand which everyone can use to participate to the process.

The interconnected BAOTAZ Brain
Some details on the Interconnected Brain:

The interconnected brain is connected to a Human Ecosystems platform which harvests data in real time from Twitter and Instagram, searching for expressions about “inhabiting the planet” and “inhabiting the city”, in 29 languages. These expressions are processed using natural language analysis to detect the emotions they express (using the Circumplex Model of Affect), the topics they confront with, and the relations they describe.


This information is sent to a Processing which uses it to modulate signals that are sent to an Arduino board and circuit which is used to pilot the generative patterns of the lights embedded in the sculpture and the sounds which are generated in the installation.


The LEDs in the installation are controlled in waves which are affected by the incoming data, in real-time.


According to the axes of the model of emotional appraisal (Comfort and Energy), a color is selected: Blue indicates more comfort, Red indicates more energy. When both are present, Purple results.


Variations happen according to the relational environment created in the infosphere. We use two values: relational graph density (giving a sense of how much people are interconnected) and intensity (giving a sense about how these interconnections generate action and expression). The wider (amplitude) the oscillations in color, the more the graph is dense. The faster (frequency) the transitions, the more the relational graph is intense.

The  BAOTAZ Wearable
Some details about the Augmented Sense:

The wearable device which implements the augmented sense functions much in the same way as what we have seen for the interconnected brain: Human Ecosystems gathers planetary data, feeds it to a Processing sketch which sends it to some electronic circuits. On these circuits a series of small vibrating motors transform data in vibration and tactility, and are accompanied by lights and a series of solutions for sensorial activation (including eye and ear pieces which allow for maximum concentration on the tactile signals emitted by the wearable device).


A study has been made to understand which patterns of tactile stimulation could be meaningfully interpreted, to convey understandings about the data. Instead of sending single impulses, which would have been difficult to compare and understand in their entity, we have chosen to produced continuous waves of signals, which are then perturbed through data, thus obtaining signals which are easily recognizable on the skin and which the brain quickly figures out how to interpret.


In BAOTAZ different versions of the wearable are already being designed, for disabilities, children and parents, remote relationships, and, in general, to experiment multiple ways in which people can physically interconnect with vast or remote phenomena, using an augmented sense.


BAOTAZ is a project conceived by (alphabetical order):


Ilaria Ascione, Mirko Balducci, Lavoslava Benčić, Mario Bernaudo, Francesco Berti, Beatrice Bianchini, Francesco Bonomi, Stefano Capezzuto, Tommaso Cappelletti, Ruggero Castagnola, Marta Cecconi, Francesca Chiappa, Giorgio Cipolletta, Dario Cottafava, Eugenio De Matteis, Gianpaolo Delfino, Giacomo Equizi, Rudy Faletra, Giulia Falciani, Clementina Giulia Maria Gentile Fusillo, Anna Gerometta, Alberto Gomez, Giulia Grassi, Doğu Gündoğdu, Jon Husband, Salvatore Iaconesi, Ami Liçaj, Milijana Komad, Arianna Magrini, Filippo Menconi, Michela Nicchiotti, Naz Önen, Ludovica Panzera, Oriana Persico, Antonio Puglisi, Giorgio Rinolfi, Alessia Santoro, Maria Teresa Scarabello, Joanna Sleigh, Andrea Spatari, Martina Sportelli, Roberto Terracciano, Guglielmo Torelli, Tommaso Tregnaghi, John Wilkinson


The process was promoted and supported by:
La Cura, Nefula, ISIA Firenze, XXI Esposizione Internazionale della Triennale di Milano, Condividi la Conoscenza

Original article, press release and useful link here.

Oriana Persico

Artist and writer, Oriana Persico is an expert in participatory policies and digital inclusion. Working in the information and communication field she is very sensible to the cultural and social changes. She is co-founder and advisor of Nefula.


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