METABODY in Lüneburg

Algorithmic Ontohacking – Computational Time, Movement and the Body

Compact undergraduate course at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany – based on Jaime del Val’s concept of Ontohacking in the Algoricene, and on the Metabody Project.

Final session conducted by Jaime del Val, with Yvonne Foerster and Jonathan Reus – Coordination: Jonathan Reus – Lehrangenbot: Yvonne Foerster – Lehrpreis: Jonathan Reus

Final session at VAMOS Kulturhalle

13th April-16th June

During 2017 several online meetings happened between Metabody coordinator Jaime del Val, and Metabody collaborators and colleagues working in Leuphana University, Lüneburg, – particularly with Yvonne Foerster and Jonathan Reus, and with participation in some meetings of Sacha Kagan and Christoph Brunner- discussing ideas for setting up a Metabody Forum event in Lüneburg in 2017 and 2018.

Jaime del Val proposed as potential thematic threads his concepts of the Algoricene -the Age of the Algorithms- and of Ontohacking -hacking technology at the level of its ontological force, as it crafts perceptions and produces new realities- whereby the Ontohacklab is an established branch of the metabody Forum. Jonathan Reus borrowed Jaime’s concepts for defining a course in apPlying for a teaching award (Lehrpreis), which he eventually won! So we finally have a Metabody related educational event, an undergraduate course, in Leuphana University!

The course starts with an introductory session by Jonathan Reus in April, continues with a weekend session with Yvonne Foerster and Jonathan Reus reading several texts of Merleau Ponty and other philosophers, introducing concepts of embodiment, time and movement, and also introducing some technologies. The course culminates with a second intensive weekened where Jaime del Val takes the students onto a journey around his concept and practices of Ontohacking in the Algoricene, together with Yvonne Foerser and Jonathan Reus. This last weekend of the course is done in collaboration with the Ontohacklab of the Metabody Forum 2018.


INTRODUCTION – (from the Lehrangebot)

This seminar explores the topic of movement and embodiment through the design of interactive digital systems in the performing arts. The course draws theoretically upon diverse fields such as embodiment philosophy, performance studies, interaction design, and movement practice to engage students in thinking and doing computational art from the perspective of the body and space, as opposed to limiting interaction to the dominant modality of the screen. The seminar takes place as a series of intensive workshops where students develop interactive performance works while reflecting critically on considerations of the body and perception within digital systems.

The seminar is a collaboration with the Ontohacklab (Metabody Forum 2018) and takes as a starting point the concept of ‘Ontohacking’ proposed by artist/researcher Jaime del Val. Ontohacking as a concept attempts to discover points of critical intervention into technological structures of perception, exposing the particular ways this structuring happens and its political ramifications in the current era of algorithmic organization (what del Val calls the ‘ Algoricene ’).

Ziel/Goal: Students will learn to critically reflect on the ways in which algorithmic systems structure movement and perception. Students will learn to approach these themes from a diversity of perspectives: theoretical discourse, applied design, programming and hardware skills (designing movement-based interactive artworks), and embodied practices as found in performance arts.

Students will read and reflect on texts addressing digital mediation in the arts, the construction of sensory world-views through software, and more generally, discuss ontological and epistemological issues arising from the dominant experiences of time, space and movement created through digital technologies.

Throughout the course students will learn techniques for designing and building gestural computer interfaces with the new performance-technology platform Sense/Stage. Sense/Stage offers a wireless mesh-sensing platform for performing artists to quickly prototype new gestural interfaces, using small, wireless sensing modules that can be easily attached to any point on the body and used to send sensor data back to a central computer to control sound, visuals, and other software. A goal for students will be to develop practical skills in wearable interface design and software programming. A secondary goal is for students to be able to use the theoretical framework gained in class to actively question software interface norms and challenge Cartesian separations of mind and body in digital systems.

The seminar will culminate in a 2-day intensive Ontohacklab workshop, where students will critically engage with interface design questions and, in collaboration with Jonathan Reus and Jaime del Val, realize and prototype public performances/demonstrations building on the conceptual and technical skills they have gained during the seminar. Students can expect an experiential learning encounter with their own moving bodies, interfaced with digital and algorithmic systems. In doing so, students will directly encounter the problematics that arise when ontologies of software and computation must interface with another ontology: that of the body in motion.

Through this approach, students will come away with a multi-dimensional understanding of how software and algorithms, which inevitably structure the modern world, also structure movement and felt experience, and can be responded to through critical design.


Activity/Lecture Schedule

13th April    Introduction


25 May, Friday    14:00-18:00   – Student presentations of texts with moderation by Yvonne.

  • 14:00-14:30 – Introduction to the class
  • 14:30-16:00 – Group1 Presentation
  • 16:15-18:00 – Group2 Presentation

26 May, Saturday    9:45-18:00   – Student presentations of texts with moderation by Yvonne.

  • 9:45-12:30        Group2 & 3 Presentation
  • 13:30-15:00    Group 3 Presentation
  • 15:15-15:30    Demo: Interactive wearable system
  • 15:30-18:00    Tutorials: TouchDesigner Introduction



    • 13:00 – 15:00 ~ Instoructions to Ontohacking by Jaime del Val – Sensors, perception and movement.
    • 15:15 – 18:00 ~ demonstrations & discussion of projects and final wrap up


    • 9:45-11:45 – Introduction to Sense/Stage & Mapping Strategies.
    • 12:00-13:00 – Proprioceptive Awareness Exercise conducted by Jaime.
    • 14:00 – 14:30 How does this work in daily interfaces & other situations?
    • 14:30 – 16:30 Using sensors in a creative way
    • 16:30 – 17:00 Round of presentations & Wrap-up