PE.910 | January IAP 2002 | Undergraduate

Physical Intelligence


1 What is Physical Intelligence?  
2 Orientation in Relation to Gravity “Meeting Gravity” - We will take advantage of DAPER’s high-speed imaging system to reveal the subtle premovements that keep us in balance.

“The Art of Falling” - A 40-foot padded incline allows us to play the line between balance and falling. Again, high-speed video will afford a detailed look at the elaborate compensatory dance the body does to maintain its balance under such extreme conditions. The best stumble wins.

3 Perception “Mapping Perception” - Students spend an hour blindfolded in an open field. Turning off the eyes, our project is to notice the rich array of sounds, smells, textures in which we are constantly immersed but tend to ignore. Following, we will each create a sensory map of the experience that we will use to compare and contrast our experiences.
4 Proprioception “Exploring a Sense of Weight” - From a collection of materials (e.g., foamcore, wood dowels, inflatables) we will build wearable structures to alter our body’s sense of weight, relative position and scale.
5 Spatial Perception Fieldtrip - We will visit Brandeis University’s Volen Center for Complex Systems: Human Spatial Orientation and Motor Control.

“Spatial Perception: Our Sense of an ‘Outside’ World” - In this exercise we employ body-mounted lighting instruments such as laser pointers and LEDs in a black box performance space to give new meaning to our changing relationship to the space around us.

6 Complex Coordination Field Trip - A visit to MIT’s Leg Laboratory to compare and contrast the physical intelligence an organism demonstrates against that of artificially intelligent machines.

“Walk This Way” - Using LED target markers on the body for reference points, high-speed video and movement analysis software allows us to distill the individual characteristics of each person’s gait. With this information, we will experiment with the range of movement patterns revealed to gain perspective on our individual strategies.

7 Learning and Development Field Trip - A visit to the MIT day care to watch babies work to become toddlers.

“A World of Objects” - Curiosity about the world motivates movement; our early interaction with objects forms basic gestures-reach, push, throw-structures the basic grammar of movement. We will explore simple movements in relation to objects to discover how they underlie more complex ones.

8 E-motion “Fear Factor” - Walking a 4-inch beam, 50 feet in the air, among other ropes course activities.
9 “Tooling” “Technological Innovation: Physical Problem Solving” - From a large collection of materials students will be challenged to design and build tools to solve fanciful technology-minded, body-based problems, e.g., “be here and there at the same time.”, “walk standing still.”
10 Flight “A Thousand Words” - To make a concept map illustrating connections between our scientific/technological society and our effort to transcend the limitations of our physical condition, we will pour through recent issues of Wired, Technology Review and other magazines in search of telling images (what they have to say may surprise you!).