Hyejun Youn (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ali Shtarbanov
AuxeticBreath is an interactive new-media installation that visualizes the rhythmic respiratory rate, as well as tidal volume – the amount of air displaced or exchanged in a single breath – of collective human breaths using FlowIO and soft robotics covered with auxetic structures (i.e. structures with a negative Poisson’s ratio, exhibiting the property of becoming thicker when stretched and narrower when compressed). FlowIO is a miniature, modular, pneumatic development platform with a software toolkit for control, actuation, and sensing of soft robots and programmable materials. The goals of this artwork are 1) to encourage audience interaction with collective breaths and user contemplation of the changing perception of respiration during the COVID-19 pandemic; and 2) to explore a new artistic approach using a combination of auxetic structures and soft robotics. The metaphors and artistic expressions of continuous inflation and deflation of elastomers, and the emission of light from the expansion of auxetic structures invite an individual’s presence to become part of the larger collective installation, and to take a moment to consider underlying changing perceptions of breath during the pandemic. By employing an emerging technology, we want to encourage other artists to explore and modify techniques and methods generally only used among engineers, and to embrace them as new artistic approaches for realizing their own ideas.