Experiencing Environments was shown as part of the Mighty Healthy exhibition at UNSW Galleries. The group show explored Design work that addresses health and therapeutic issues, and takes in a wide range of mediums.
This work was developed as a ‘technology probe’ for Scott Brown’s PhD research, to explore the technology that would ultimately be used in the Responsive Dome Environment (RDE). Technology probes are used in the early stages of a design process to uncover information or data about usage of a particular technology. Experiencing Environments was created to encourage neurotypical audiences to discuss issues of sensory hyper and hypo-sensitivity while interacting with the artefact.
The lighting system for this version is inverted (inside instead of outside) when compared to the RDE, and a set of headphones with binaural microphones are attached to the front of the installation. By putting these headphones, the viewer can experience a change in their auditory sense, and some awareness of what it might be like to have auditory hyper-sensitivity. The binaural microphones amplify the sound throughout the space, leading to a variety of responses: overwhelmed; confused; excited; distracted – all behaviours commonly found in autistic children.
The work is not aiming to articulate or presume what it might be like to be autistic. Rather, the system is designed as a catalyst for debate and awareness by people that would not normally consider what a sensory hyper-sensitivity may entail. These conversations with visitors to the exhibition were drawn upon to inform the design approach to the RDE.