Making Meaning with Machines
Somatic Strategies, Choreographic Technologies, and Notational Abstractions through a Laban/Bartenieff Lens
A rigorous primer in movement studies for designers, engineers, and scientists that draws on the fields of dance and robotics.
How should a gestural interface react to a “flick” versus a “dab”? Versus a “punch”? Should robots reach out to a human counterpart with a direct, telescoping action or through a circuitous arc in space? Just as different movements express the different internal states of human movers, so too can the engineered systems behind robots. In Making Meaning with Machines, Amy LaViers and Catherine Maguire offer a refreshingly embodied approach to machine design that supports the growing need to make meaning with machines by using the field of movement studies, including choreography, somatics, and notation, to engage in the process of designing expressive robots.
Drawing upon the Laban/Bartenieff tradition, LaViers and Maguire sharpen the movement analysis methodology, expanding the material through their work with machines and putting forward new conventions, such as capitalization, naming, and notation schemes, that make the embodied work more legible for academic contexts. The book includes an overview of movement studies, exercises that define the presented taxonomy and principles of movement, case studies in movement analysis of both humans and robots, and state-of-the-art research at the intersection of robotics and dance.
Making Meaning with Machines is a much-needed primer for observing, describing, and creating a wide array of movement patterns, which ultimately can help facilitate broader and better design choices for roboticists, technologists, and designers.
“Dance artists LaViers and Maguire take readers on a fascinating scholarly tour of human movement and offer a compelling program for roboticists, technologists, and designers seeking fresh perspectives on human-machine interaction.”
Naomi Ehrich Leonard, Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University
“By capturing both the appearance of movement and its meaning through novel notation, LaViers and Maguire ask us to actually move and use that movement to innovate computational movement analysis and robotic design.”
Thanassis Rikakis, Dean and Professor, Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, University of Southern California
“LaViers and Maguire bring their deep choreographic knowledge of dance to those who want to 'make robots dance.' By moving towards fundamental felt meaning-making processes, better robot interactions can be designed.”
Kristina Höök, Professor, KTH Royal Institute of Technology; author of Designing with the Body: Somaesthetic Interaction Design (MIT Press)
The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding and support from MIT Press Direct to Open, and The National Science Foundation