The 24-page essay “Q Is for Quicken” is realized as a printed object in which the content of some pages is heard, not read. This work’s magic comes from sheets of physical paper that speak or sing when handled or touched.

Alchemy is the art of transmuting bodies and substances, the quick and the dead, the inert becoming vital, accidentals and essences becoming quintessences. Three-hundred years ago, alchemy was a practical and magical art, concerned with bodies and materials that are always suffused with ethical, vital and material power. Under the prism of the Enlightenment, such practices split into the practical (e.g. engineering or medicine), the scientific, and the art of the imaginary. This work fuses these arts together again.

How do the corporeal-symbolic practices of sketching, drawing, writing, and reading (image) and listening open up and blend, beyond the conventional distinctions of their respective grammatological functions? What new gestural repertoires idiomatic to “sensate, animated paper” emerge when we can break from interaction design locked to the legacy of GUI’s with the idea of a screen and pointy “pointing device”?   What can we adapt, for example, from (un)folding, rolling, kneading, as well as pressing with any part(s) of the body?   What can we adapt from the state of the art in the gestural modulation of sound and the highly advanced technologies of gesture and motion-based interaction for musical expression, but detached from their usual device-centric context of musical instruments, and transposed to the ancient analog habits of manipulating paper, felt, textile, and parchment?    This is a risky project because we really cannot tell until we make and try out some of these sensate, animated substrates, at least in prototype form.


CIID, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
Intel @ CIID Fellowship Programme
Intel Design Schools Network
Synthesis Center,  School of Arts Media + Engineering, Arizona State University
Topological Media Lab, Concordia University, Montreal

CIID, Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design, 2014

Prototype 1 _ CIID, Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design, Aug 15, 2014


author and concept Sha Xin Wei
artistic director Oana Suteu Khintirian

Chris Wood
Thierry Dumond
Assegid Kidane
Navid Navab
Nina Bouchard

Thanks to Intel, Jamie Allen, Pavla Baxova, Jakob Bak, and the students of the Paper + Sound workshop.