No. 2


By : Elena Knox

Entrant’s location : Japan


What did you create?

Hipstar is a hula video interface. Users must hula hoop to get video (sound and vision) to play. Instead of sitting, you can “drive” video and sound playback using a custom hula-hoop equipped with accelerometer and sensor modifications. Hipstar refutes the static consumption of images. Media will play only when viewers are physically active. It is also an engaging experience to watch people using Hipstar, offering potential in the fields of performance and VR. Because hula-hooping is mainly associated with the hips and torso, most people’s whole bodies will be activated in the exchange. But for those not so mobile, it also works on the wrist, ankle, arm, neck, and in the hands. It is an all ages product that creates a joyous, enlightening, and reciprocal bond between our bodies and our technology. Notwithstanding the nostalgic popularity of hula-hooping, Hipstar, throughout the phases of its development, belongs to a new type of personal emplacement in audiovisual and virtual realities; a unique type of interface not confined to the face and fingers. The original interface has been exhibited in various contexts in Australia and India. It is in development at Watanabe lab, Department of Intermedia Art & Science, Waseda University, Tokyo.

Why did you make it?

Most people consume images while sitting and staring at screens, our bodies still and merely receptive. We’re encouraged to vary our visual focus, stretch occasionally. But there’s no denying the fact that, in the digital present, we are becoming more sedentary. An accelerometer-enabled hula hoop interface, Hipstar brings the body back, rendering the image-consumer kinetically present. Rather than the disembodied, minor effort usually spent in consuming media content, Hipstar asks people to work their booty to get the images rolling. Engaging both the nostalgic and contemporary popularity of hula hooping, Hipstar is a joyfully literal take on being a cog in a machine. Thematically, it manifests our (post)human emplacement in the networked image-machine itself. It requires a full-body commitment to confronting our extreme digital consumption practices, and of one's actual emplacement and complicity in the image-scape. At the same time, the invention is a playfully literal take on our willing participation in the contemporary, networked image-machine. Hopefully it causes us to question our everyday practices.

How did you make it?

A hula hoop is fitted with: battery, accelerometer, computer chip. The hoop is made from HDPE -standard irrigation tubing. It has two integrated custom-designed chambers, one holding a rechargeable battery and the other the electronics. The electronics consist of an Inertial Measurement Unit connected to a small single chip processor that converts sensor data to MIDI, this is transmitted via Bluetooth to a computer running a custom network in Touch Designer where the video is controlled according to the hoop dynamics. Currently, video plays from computers via HDMI. Life-size and large image is extra fun. Sound playback is also driven by the hula hooping. The changing speeds/tone are dramatic and intriguing for onlookers when audible in the space, but alternatively the sound can be experienced via headphones. Contrary to what you might think, a larger hoop is easier for beginners to handle. I first developed the hula-hoop interface in 2015 as part of a PhD (Media Art), investigating gender, technology and embodiment in association with machine and machine-like bodies (winner of UNSW Australia Art&Design Dean’s Award for Research Excellence). The interface has subsequently been developed and refined over several exhibitions. I am particularly interested in different cultural receptions of Hipstar.

Your entry’s specification

1110cm plastic hula hoop PC computer Video displayed by projection or monitor Sound speakers (optional)