December 17, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – January 9, 2022 @ 10:00 pm
Municipal Theatre of Piraeus
Iroon Polytechneiou 32 & Vas. Georgíou
Municipal Theatre of Piraeus
210 41 43 310


Today, information is increasingly acquiring form. Design, art and science continuously explore the merging of the physical and digital domains and are invested in the fusion of data and matter. How does this search for spatial augmentation affect our daily experiences? During the last decade, computational design has made it possible to create dynamic structures with the help of sensors and actuator systems. From the human enacting on the predetermined possibilities the space affords, these fields of inquiry explore how the space itself offers opportunities for meaningful interaction.

The multisensory, interactive installation Synesthesia is a project by Severino Alfonso and Loukia Tsafoulia, within the context of their research for the Synesthetic Research and Design Lab, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Architecture and Built Environment — a multidisciplinary research that provokes a discourse between art, technology, digital culture and health studies.

Project Synesthesia is an atmospheric, soft interface with an infrastructural core that allows no physical bodies inside but rather “consumes” them virtually. Formally, conceived as a deformed sphere -a central node of multiple projections shaped as a blob- it acts as a kind of three- dimensional cinema. The installation fits in an approximately 9 feet (2.7 meters) bounding envelope. The main structure, consisting of six crossed triangulated aluminum pole legs, holds a series of interconnected fiberglass poles that in turn, tightly stretch its fabric skin. The fabric acts as the veil of the installation and is the analogue domain that hosts the projections.


The unconscious, accidental, and curious performance of selves actuate a structured “veil”, a skin that serves as a responsive infrastructure. The structure invites, the body is pulled in, and in blinking patterns, our organs of perception are dynamically projected back onto the skin as abstracted images, to shortly after disappear. Synesthesia is an organ itself, a choreographed collection of organs projected, layered and superimposed on top of each other in a meshing of selves. It is a manifestation of bodily data relationships abstracted and projected back to an analog domain. It promotes a multiplicitous idea of what it means to be human, to have agency, and creates a collective space that shifts the narrative of an agreed syntax of form to a spatial construct of a performance of bodies. Body and scene enter a mutual agency, a constant state of becoming. Our bodies reside inside the installation both temporarily and indefinitely as data.

The skin is actuated by the human presence and interaction with it. It has a series of portals that act as peeking holes and in blinking light patterns and sounds invite human participants to come closer. These portals are simultaneously the eyes of the installation that in turn looks back at the participants. Upon interaction, the participants´ eyes are captured and projected in real time on the skin of this artificial body. Synesthesia is being looked through but also looks outwards. The internal eye of the installation will be live on the SR&DL webpage while exhibited.

Synesthesía´s fluctuating light and sound patterned effects attract the viewer to approach and engage in a sensorial “conversation”. The work provides visual stimulation at low levels of light with the dynamic light and color projections as animated visuals. The work also engages in tactile, embodied interactions with its low frequency vibration that one can feel but cannot hear.

The name, “Synesthesia” is used symbolically to evoke a sense of place by combining sight, sensation, movement, touch, memory and perception. Rather being a direct reference to the medical neurological condition, Synesthesia investigates the combined sensorial and cognitive aspects that make up an experience; a single artifice that both triggers and responds to overlapping layers of sensory input and output. In that sense, Synesthesia provides a rational and emotional sense of what it means to live among machines that converse and raises awareness on the design potential behind responsive environments. Understanding their nuances opens possibilities for critiquing space interactivity and offers opportunities for both historical reflection and prospective thinking as a response to the expanding use of computers, machines and automated objects in our daily lives.

What are the processes linking humans, machines and spaces, and how to navigate them to better understand the humannonhuman interactions that occur within our built environment?

Synesthesia, feeds from design thinking approaches and aligns with a historical inquiry on the human – machine – environment recursive relationships. It equates environment to experience via performance and mediates our bodies’ agency via interlancing action and perception.

English psychiatrist and pioneer in cybernetics Ross Ashby´s theory of the Embodied Mind and the electromechanical inventions by Ashby, Gray Walter and Gordon Pask known as “perception devices” –perspicuous and suggestive models for understanding the brain as a performative entity– offer a conceptual framework for this work.

The installation comes to life by the participation of its viewers, symbolically dissolving the notion of authorship as it has been traditionally conceived in the design process. Its interactive interfaces expand human agency through the use of sensors, actuators, real-time response, and a human – machine participatory constitution. Performance and participation are sought not only as an experience but as a way of research and a way to create knowledge and awareness; As a role, as a process, as a response to social, experiential, and environmental considerations. Architecture is engaged with diverse, more temporal modalities.

The installation is a traveling experience that engages a variety of people, communities, and places, thus initiating ways of rethinking and engaging with the very notion of Public. As an uncurated event, it instantiates a public and a symbolic space that assumes exchange. The community is the maker of the installation that comes to life only through their participation. The installation ́s afterlife moves beyond its physicality and amplifies the narratives and cultural interactions triggered by it.

Synesthesia has been exhibited at the European Cultural Center, as part of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale (May-November 2021). Before traveling to Venice, the project launched MICRO • GALLERY, an experimental space of the HOT • BED art gallery in Philadelphia, USA (February – March 2021).

Synesthesia informs ongoing work on the role technology and responsive environments can potentially play in not just representing, rather redirecting our built environment relationships around neurodiversity and various sensory perceptual models. In examining possibilities of data-driven metrics to evaluate a design environment, on the one hand, the space has the capacity to both sense and respond in order to accommodate a set of comfort thresholds for the human body. This occurs through the use of technology within the built environment where values such as light, temperature, and humidity, adapt depending on the circuits´ inputs and outputs. On the other hand, the human body itself serves as the entity being measured to thereafter evaluate an environment and to also inform design decisions. The simultaneous employment of metrics for both the space and the body can be a multilayered approach. Either way, the goal is a human – machine – environment conversation that brings sensory decisions to the center of it all. Synesthesia is the pilot to a series of interactive installations by the Synesthetic Research and Design Lab -SR&DL-.



The Synesthetic Research and Design Lab, at the College of Architecture and Built Environment serves as collaborative research and prototyping platform where interactive design, digital culture, and emergent health sciences meet, highlighting the recursion between the individual and their environment. The lab, directed by Severino Alfonso and Loukia Tsafoulia, is a newly minted platform that aims to take risks in developing methodologies that engage critically with interactions of humans, objects and environments.

The lab collaborates with the Center for Autism and Neurodiversity, the Occupational Therapy and Neurology Departments at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in the building of a solid foundation of knowledge, addressing all-inclusive ways for inhabiting and perceiving our environments. This collaboration stimulates dialogues amongst designers, artists, medical field experts, advocates, neurodiverse individuals and caregivers in regard to the inclusivity of our current environments.

Severino Alfonso and Loukia Tsafoulia are registered architects, educators and researchers. They are founders of PLB studio architecture and research practice, and Assistant Professors at the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, Thomas Jefferson University where they co-direct the Synesthetic research and design lab in collaboration with health departments within TJU. They have taught at Barnard + Columbia Architecture, Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, New York Institute of Technology, the Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York and at the New York City College of Technology. Their design work has been exhibited in international design venues, the European Cultural Center Architecture Venice Biennale 2021, the London 3d print show, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York amongst others and they have lectured in academic institutions in the US East Coast, Madrid, Athens, and various cities in China. Their research is positioned at the intersection of responsive environments, digital technologies and the computational theory of design in the 1950s-1970s in Europe and North America. They both hold a Post-Professional MS in Advanced Architectural Design from the Graduate School of Planning and Preservation, Columbia University.

Severino Alfonso
Severino holds two MS in Urban Design and Advanced Architecture respectively from the school of architecture in Madrid (ETSAM) where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate. He has worked with international architectural studios such as Carme Pinos, Angel Fernandez Alba and Federico Soriano in Spain, Lomar Arkitekter in Sweden and Per-forma Studio, KDF Architecture and Natalie Jeremijenko in the United States.

Loukia Tsafoulia
Loukia received her professional degree in Architecture Engineering from the National Polytechnic School of Athens where she is a Ph.D. candidate. She is the editor of the book publication titled Transient Spaces and editor and author of the in-progress book KatOikia, Housing in the Age of Rapid Globalization, Ubiquitous Technologies, and Information. She has worked with Studio Dror, LEESER Architecture, and Jorge Otero Pailos in New York and with K+T Architecture as well as the NTUUrban Environment Lab in Athens.


Designers/Authors: Severino Alfonso, Loukia Tsafoulia

Music: Stefan Schmidt, Rodenkopf

Lead Interactive Engineer: David Azar

Live Feed and Real-Time Display: Matthew Ross

Project Assistants: Olivia Birritteri, Abigail Kern

Fabric Prototype Collaborators: Anne Hand, Kim Rosner

Fabric Construction: RoseBrand Inc


Tel: +30 210 4143 310



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