Illegible Affects

  • Installation – metasculpture
  • performance and metaformance
  • metagaming app
  • research

Illegible affects is a performative installation-app  which reverses the tendencies of the quantified self, entrainment and machine leraning in reltion to emotion measurement rasing an wareness of the irreducible indeterminacy of affects as constitutive of a creative, lively and open ecology. Illegible affects focuses on the fact that any measurement rather than representing anything, is reductive (of what it pretends to represent) and productive (of something new, generally reduced).

Colour mappings of dissimilar and superslow gestures feedback on the user in an ongoing process of untrainment, of mutation of the self and its proprioception by unlearning automated behaviours. These become an expanded alien body as expressive movement measurements become changing lights in an immersive environment of translucent lflexinamic structures which may me a suspended metascuptture or an architecture engulfing the audience. Rather than visualizing emotions the process continually disaligns the affects and perceptions of the bodies through that expanded meta-architectural body of flexinamics, lights and vibratory soundscapes.

Illegible affects is a research project conducted by Reverso/Jaime del Val, in collaboration with Infomus-UNIGE, as part of the METABODY EU Project – which proposes to focus on the spectrum of expressions and affect that is irreducible to codified or codifiable emotional patterns, as indeterminate substrate of creativity and aliveness in communication. The project proposes to promote technologies that enhance indeterminacy without aiming to measure or capture it and has resulted in a provisional app prototype that would give feedback of entropy, disalignment or superslowness of gesture, allowing to draw colour maps of gestures patterns that could then be blurred, though machine learning processes based on Kohonen maps, thereby raising an awareness of the contigency of patterns and the possibility to deviate from them, while colours would arbitrarily relate to potential and variable affective shades.

The colours and movement analysis can be mapped as light, sound and robotic movements of flexinamic structures becoming an affective architecture in feedback with the body of the interactor.

Conception: Reverso – Jaime del Val
Software for analysis of movement expressive qualities: Casa Paganini-InfoMus Research Ventre, University of Genoa.

Recordings of movement qualities: K-Danse, Instituto Stocos.

This case study/subproject studies the computational analysis of emotion and movement for interaction design purposes from an artistic perspective informed by science and technology, focusing on ambiguity and indeterminacy of expression as a necessary, unavoidable and creative substrate of human non verbal communication.
Illegible Affects: application of Kohonen self-organizing neural network models for the analysis of “illegible” movement qualitaties.
This project, conceptualised by Jaime del Val, proposes to expand on one of the most fundamental areas of research of the Metabody project, namely the aspects of expression that while escaping quantitative or reductive modes of analysis, are crucial for creativity in communication. Illegible Affects proposes to raise a positive awareness of the indeterminate, ambiguous or illegible expressions, which enrich the spectrum of our communications making them more creative.
The project proposes to focus on the positive aspects of dissimilarity of movements, through real time machine learning systems that allow to generate maps of movement patterns with colour regions which will be clearer the more repetitive a pattern is, raising awareness of repetition, while the map will be richer in colours the more veried the pattenrs are. Once a map with clear regions has been generated one can blur these regions through performing gestures that don’t correspond to the patterns previously generated. The feedback of the application allows to focus on degrees of dissimilarity of movement on a contingent basis, not in relation to universal parameters but to the actual patterns generated here and now by the user. The map thus invites to explore gestural diversity and divergency as a positive value.
The application gives simultaneous feedback of dissimilarity, slowness, energy, fluidity and weight, avoiding emotional labels for the analysis of gesture while giving awareness of the multiplicity of qualities that a given system analyses all the time in our expressive gestures. In particular the slowness awareness operates only at a scale of extreme slowness, that resonates with the movement techniques developed in Metabody under the so called Disalignment techniques, where slowing down is proposed as a first gesture of resistance to control society and its constant acceleration of movements.
The application is clearly a response, partly ironic, to most of the research being done in the Big Data Culture of prediction and modulation of emotions and behaviours, trying to subvert this tendency by giving a positive value to indeterminacy and inviting to explore gestural diversity and divergency.
Purpose and relation with Metabody outcomes: The case study approaches one of the main issues proposed by the project: “to invert the habitual process undertaken in information technologies, so that instead of foregrounding meaning and function, we foreground the embodied expressive elements of communication, and the ways in which these exceed meaning structures. What new relational, cognitive and affective frameworks could be generated in this process through radically highlighting the openness of expressive qualities? How could this bring about an improvement for the lives of people who do not match the dominant structures of functionality and meaning, from disabled people to people from diverse cultural backgrounds, gender, or age groups?” “to develop new approaches for the understanding of expression, emotion and cognition that do not aim to classify patterns, which always involves a reductionism, but to understand processes of change and diversification; to understand the processes of affective and cognitive homogenisation in current globalisation; and to foreground the changing features of embodied expression that are foundational to cultural diversity, sustainability, and heritage.”

What has been done:

  • The case study was proposed by Jaime del Val in the Dresden 2013 Forum, Madrid 2015, and Paris 2015 Forum.
  • Exchanges between Jaime del Val and UNIGE-Infomus staff took shape during the Genoa Forum.
  • Recordings of movement for the development of novel analysis methods was done by Infomus, with guidance and proposal of K-Danse (Jean Marc Matos) and dancers provided by Instituto Stocos in the Madrid Forum 2014.
  • Presentations at Forum Madrid 2015 and Paris 2015.
  • Final developments till January 2016.


  • Software.
  • Artistic installation using smartphones as interaction devices – IMF 2015
  • Video.