Dance, a Social Installation

Dance as a Device for Intercultural Exchange [DDIE] was an installation based on research about multiculturalism and social identity in Germany making use of to salsa music.

Role: Ideation | Research | UX/UI Designer

Goal

  • Promote cultural integration by providing a physical and sociological space where the foreign and native cultures can come together

Contribution

  • Conducted intensive research on the history of Salsa music in Germany and applied methods such as video ethnography and expert interviews to expand the research
  • Designed prototype

Impact

  • The installation was placed in two different environments within the University in Kiel. Other presentations are planned to appear in other cities around the world.

Process

A projection process together with a participatory design approach influenced from human–centered design, guided my project to help understand the divide between foreigners and German people.
Research started with reading the existing literature regarding the role that salsa dancing plays in Germany. Different kinds of music were tested to find out if people would prefer one type over the other. The first insights came out from the surveys at dancing classes that showed the amounts of German and foreigners that engaged in learning how to dance to salsa and getting to know each other’s culture and cultural expressions. Other methods like video ethnography and expert’s interviews were used to recognize that people would not only meet in clubs or classes, but also in public spaces, which proposed an interesting possibility for testing my project.
Following the experiments with makey–makeys and observations on German people’s interactions with salsa dancing, a prototype was developed for testing.

Design and Prototype

After iterations with Kinect and Background Subtraction, the final prototype was built with the use of video snippets that would be projected onto screen when recalled by the Processing application, triggered by a proximity sensor when the viewer approached the installation. When the user was far–away, he would see the foreign culture reflected, at a mid–range distance he would see himself, as a metaphor for the reflection on his own identity and when he was closer to it, the image representing the foreign culture would be displayed and “danced” with the user.

Documentation

The project’s presentation included a printed documentation book. The publication compiled the project’s initial research, approach and methods, design challenges and criteria, prototype’s tests, and conclusions.

Video

One important part of my work with DDIE was the building of the prototype and inviting the people to participate in the testing. In the first atemps the sensors were not working that well. But after iterations like changing scripts I was able to make it work better.