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Experimental Design

Dor Cohen

Dor Cohen is an architect and digital designer who likes to poke themes he doesn’t fully understand, such as time, embodiment and virtual reality, through creative research and critical design projects. With a background in gymnastics, choreography and architecture, Dor is fascinated with the moving body in space and time, and how related phenomena translate to virtuality. In his practice, Dor interlaces the physical and the digital in thought-provoking films, illustrations, and virtual reality experiences.

2020-2022 – Information Experience Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK

2016-2017 – Student Exchange Program, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy

2013-2018 – B.Arch 5-year Architecture Program, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel

2013 – Cours de Civilisation Française, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris, France

2005-2008 – Arts and Design Major, Mor Metro-West, Raanana, Israel

“What is more important for us, (...) than the control, the owning and operation, of our own physical selves? And yet it is so automatic, so familiar, we never give it a thought.” 

From ‘The Disembodied Lady’ by Oliver Sacks

 

Each person gets to live in one body, with its limitations and capabilities; the body is a tool one uses to explore and develop movement. Following Sacks’s suggestion, in this project, a simple phenomenon is being challenged for the sake of enriching our experience in the world. By gaining control over another body a limitless array of new moves may be obtained. 

Estrangement is an experiment-driven research project exploring themes of identity, movement, and (dis)embodiment. It provides a framework to challenge the notion of embodiment in which the subject is not only represented but also in control of a different body, facilitating a new proprioceptive dialogue with an altered reflection. Through VR experiences, performances, and workshops, both physical and digital, the project studies corporal modification and how it can affect our proprioception, for the sake of deepening and expanding mental and physical bodily capabilities related to movement.

So what does disembodiment feel like?

Exploring Proprioceptive Qualities With the Anti-body Suit
Silhouette Development

This project started with physical experimentations made through a wearable inflatable garment called the Anti-body Suit. Into a custom-made ripstop and lycra suit air is flowing, allowing our bodies' known liminal border to turn blurred. Our familiarity with our bodies allows us, using proprioceptive skills, to move with no visual supervision; we can sense our moving body in space and time. However, the state of obscured human outline equips the user with an unknown silhouette to explore and discover a new movement lexicon. Using the Anti-body Suit introduces a new frame to interact with, questioning the proprioceptive knowledge we already own. By challenging the familiar notion of self the user can explore new territories of image and identity from the inside out and vice-versa.

Transformance Trailer
Head Wrap Texture

The next step was virtual transitioning. Following a long process of digitising the body of the dancer, including 3D scans, sculpting, rigging, and motion capture, we were able to explore and research the notion of embodiment virtually. The VR application, developed with the help of the RCA technicians, offered Lewis Walker, the collaborating dancer, to rediscover themselves in a digital form. The virtual encounter allowed a new self-perspective to be explored, which then got challenged and deepened with the application of deformation upon the reflecting avatar. As a result, a live improvisational performance was created in which Lewis was interacting with their digital reflection for the first time, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone toward moving in new ways. 

LW: “Experiencing an interaction with my virtual self encouraged gratitude and appreciation for my body and movement. This enabled me, for the first time, to dance alongside myself and to explore how my movement feels on the receiving end."

Estrangement: The Workshop
Various Workshop Posters

A movement-based workshop in which the participants are exploring their proprioception and its potential to expand. The participants were given guidance in regards to their interaction and methods of approaching the drill rather than suggestions of movements and emotions. Each participant was asked to bring their self to the room and communicate only through motions. Throughout the workshop, the participants-turning-dancers identified their own movement pattern and examined their partner’s language, followed by an exchange drill which pushed them to detach from the familiarity of their body and commit to what their partner was performing. In this drill, the participants were enabled to expand their body awareness in a reciprocal way with the help of their partner. The main goal was to bring the participant to feel disembodiment, similar to the experience created in the virtual reality experience.

Technical Support: Antoine Hacheme, Thomas Deacon and Iwona Zabrocka

Personal Tutor: Carolina Ramirez-Figueroa