Theriomorphous Cyborg

The Animal Architecture Awards have just announced the winners of their 2011 contest. Taking first place is Simone Ferracina’s Theriomorphous Cyborg, a (speculative) augmented reality game inspired by Jacob von Uexküll’s notion of the animal umwelt. Not truly architectural, Theriomorphous Cyborg instead shifts how a human participant relates to space and the landscape. Each level in the free-form game takes the player through different modes that relate to the sensory capacities of various animals. Ferracina writes:

“Inspired by migratory birds and their ability to perceive the Earth’s magnetism, LEVEL 1 superimposes the participant’s field of vision with an additional signal consisting of directional color patterns. The gamer learns to navigate space according to his/her own magnetic compass.”

Once the participant has mastered one form of perception, she advances to more outlandish experiments with vision and navigation. Level 3 essentially blinds the player, and replaces his vision with the feed from a series of hacked CCTV cameras. Level 6 covers up billboards with images of bee-friendly flowers. A mouthpiece morphs the user’s words into animal noises, robbing her of the ability to communicate with language. By imagining an animalistic version of future devices, Theriomorphous Cyborg presents a trippy, compelling alternative to the assumption that all technology must be anthropocentric.

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