research in practice

The research of echo:;system looks to develop active mediated spaces that explore ecological and sociocultural aspects of urban-natural environments. Creating a series of surreal ecologies, or echo systems, we imagine environments where sound, video, and installation are combined with computation and contemporary dance to promote reflection upon how and where we live by engaging collaborators across dance, ethnography, computer science, ecology and the environmental humanities, human-computer interaction [HCI], music, and architecture.

Our approach to research-in-practice intermixes active observation and interview with the prototyping and development of outcomes to generate new knowledge and gain insight for interactive performance. Project residencies continue to develop methods of research in practice; ethnographic methods of data gathering result in papers regarding both the process of artistic research as well as guiding content in the conceptual development of the work. By bringing together practitioners and researchers, we find a unique opportunity to observe and gather insight into both the collaborative undertaking across disciplines and the requirements and considerations involved in developing computational and expressive systems to support new forms of hybrid performance.

Participatory Installations

Second in the echo::system series, actionstation.2 - the desert offers a simulated walk through urban desert regions of the greater Phoenix area. Treadmills, re-engineered as interactive interfaces for embodied navigation of dynamic local environmental data, create a mytho-poetic rendering of the real and imagined desert landscapes. Through the development of this kinesthetic interface, we explore the relationship between understanding and action through the experience of moving without traveling, as a means to explore sensory dislocation of body from location, from place to meaning.


Dance drives the choreographed multi-media performance that follows a fictional tribe seeking knowledge of the evolutionary future of their species. Caught in a paradox of walking without traveling, the performers’ vision quest enacts an interface with the land through the blind belief in their machines. Delivered by gym treadmills, their machines become functional and metaphorical, referencing American gym culture, nomadic cultures, as well as the tradition of the Australian Aboriginal walkabout.

Computational Responsivity

We examine the reciprocal relationships between audience and exhibition space formed through both “passive” (watching, reflecting on performance) and “active” (walking on treadmills) interactivity in echo::system. Computational frameworks are designed for real-time interactivity in order to support dynamic, improvisational performance.

Publications and Scholarly Outcomes

Journal Articles

Panel Presentations

  • Coleman, G., Byrne, D., Berezina-Blackburn, V., Parady, K., Oduroe, J. Transdisciplinary Collaboration on Urban Desert Ecologies in Echo::System.. Panel Presentation as part of Symposium on Digital Art and the Urban Environment: Engaging Urban Ecology through Digital Art and New Media.. Pace, New York. Oct 4th, 2013.