Aesthetic Expression of Feelings
Workshop at the i3 Spring Days 2001- Porto, Portugal
23 April 2001

The invited speakers.

Edith Ackerman

Björn Breidegard

Phil Ellis

Elena Giacopini

Göran Lassbo


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Edith Ackerman.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Dr. Edith Ackermann is interested in collaborative learning, constructive play, and creative work / design, in technology-mediated environments. She studies how the conjunction of virtual and physical spaces support human learning, and how people-mostly children-develop senses of identity and community as they meet in actual, symbolic, or virtual worlds. She has pursued these interests in working with technologists, students, designers, and researchers in milieus concerned with learning and education. Dr. Ackermann teaches at the M.I.T. School of Architecture, Design Technologies, where she is appointed Visiting Professor, and consults for LEGO and MIT Media Laboratory. She is Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Aix-Marseille, France, on a leave of absence. Previously, she was a Senior Research Scientist at MERL - A Mitsubishi Research Laboratory; a Junior Faculty at the MIT Media Lab and University of Geneva; and a Research Collaborator at the Centre International d'Epistémologie Génétique, Geneva, Switzerland, under the direction of Jean Piaget.

poetics of Pretense: Symbolic Recreations & Imaginary Projections in 'Real' Learning
Humans learn about what is by imagining what's not, or what could be: Young and old, they use play as a means to enact their fancies and work out their dreads. From age 2 on, children engage in symbolic or pretense play. They set the stages and build the props that allow them to explore what they care about.They create the characters and invent the plots that help them revisit puzzling events on secure ground. They "become" their characters, sliding under their skin, to vicariously live their lives. In this presentation, I discuss the roles of symbolic recreations and imaginary projections in human learning and development -- both cognitive and affective. I stress the importance of enactments, or simulacres, and simulations besides language -- descriptions and notation. I discuss how digital technologies can enhance kids' natural abilities to pretend and simulate, to 'do as if" and "play what if". Digital technologies, I argue, provide new opportunities for suspending 'reality' and bringing fancy to life. They can [be designed / used to] help users establish / sustain a dialog between what is and what could be, between fact and fancy, between the actual and the possible (condition sine qua non for reaching deeper levels of understanding). I illustrate my points through specific examples.

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Björn Breidegard.
University of Lund, Sweden

I graduated from Lund University in 1976 with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, and have been working as a computer system designer and with teaching until the fall of 1998 when I became a doctoral student at Certec. In the fall of 2000 I presented my licentiate thesis The Importance of Variation in Cognition and Learning based on the theory of Self-Organizing Maps and computer modelling and simulations.
So far, I have spent a great deal of my time on developing a communication aid (The Minimeter) for a 19 year old girl, who was left almost completely paralyzed as a result of being kicked by a horse 9 years ago. I have also developed an air-mouse based on the Minimeter: using small finger movements in the air rather than a conventional mouse for controlling a cursor on a computer screen.
From a very early age, I have been a true investigator of things in the world around us, particularly technological devices. I have been taking things apart (analysis), putting together and modifying things (synthesis), and repairing things ever since the age of three. As the years went by, my interest turned to the things inside us, mainly the soul and the brain.

design for differently-abled people in a creative and joyful environment
The effects of a language disability can be devastating to the development of the individual since they make it more difficult to accumulate experience, emotions, and knowledge. The research reported here relates to an ongoing, 7-year-old joint project involving three participants at the Pictorium Day Center ("Tryckolera"), their supervisor and mental companion, and Certec, Lund University, Sweden. All three participants have developed their spoken language through the earlier Isaac and Science Piction projects. (visit:
Of special importance for the outcome of the interaction with the Pictorium is the creative and joyful environment there, the outstanding aesthetic ability of the person in charge, and his efforts to use several different modes to reveal the feelings and the emotions of the members at the Pictorium. Among the results are: new interest in communication, new ways of expressing needs, wishes, and dreams, better memory, and - in some cases - a marvellous growth of oral language.

We are going to develop a computerized communication tool for these three persons - The Minimeter Maxi - an individualized interface in which the user controls the computer with speech and sound and/or head movements/blinking/eye movements, with well-functioning feedback.


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Phil Ellis.
University of Sunderland, UK

Phil Ellis is Professor in Performance Arts at the University of Synderland in England. He has researched extensively in the area of new technology, sound and people with disabilities.

In most of the developed world the proportion of people living through to old age is increasing significantly. Simultaneously the number of elderly people experiencing stroke, dementia and depression is increasing. Psychoneuroimmunology has proved that therapeutic intervention can significantly improve quality of life for a range of conditions without the need for chemical intervention. This presentation will describe a new approach which is currently being developed for the elderly mentally infirm in long term care. The approach uses a Soundbeam, a digital device which converts physical movement into sound, a sound processor which enables non-verbal communication, and vibroacoustic techniques. The effectiveness of the therapy will be illustrated with case study material on video.

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Elena Giacopini.
Infant-toddler schools of Reggio Emilia, Comune di Reggio Emilia, Italy

experience of Reggio Emilia schools

information will be added soon




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Göran Lassbo.
Department of Education, Goteborg University, Sweden

Göran Lassbo is PhD. Professor in pedagogy at the Department of Education, Goteborg University. My specialities lie within the fields of family studies and special needs education. In the I3 I work with the Today's Stories project which aims in producing electronic means to collect, to manipulate and to share individual and group experiences. Like expressions of feelings.

transmitting pictures of life and supporting the participation of handicapped children
In my daily life I work with children's learning problems, in the ordinary school as well as in less structured contexts. My main finding on pedagogy, after more than 30 years within the field could be summarised as simply as: Learning is a process of development comprising intellectual as well as emotional aspects and carried out in interaction between the developing person and his/her social and physical context.
In an interacting dyad, developmental and learning outcomes are related to factors like:
-the possibility to understand the each other's signals and language
-the mutual acceptance of involved parties
-the gradually transference of initiatives and responsibilities from the more experienced (or adult) to the less experienced (child)

To the handicapped child difficulties are frequently related to these, as well as to several other aspects of the process. The communication processes are (with the use of a technical terminology) disturbed by problems related to the capacity, the construction and the language of the transmitter, the form, the content and the strength of the signal, and the interpretation, the sensitivity and the organisation level of the receiver.
In my presentation I will further elaborate these general problems and point out some ways in which technical artefacts could support the communication of feelings and memories as well as basic information. I will present the use of a very simple device, more specifically a polaroid camera, and how the use of this affected the life and development of an autistic boy and his two main settings, his home and his institute. Due to my restricted knowledge on technical forms, the presentation will concentrate on questions related to some of its functions; what processes related to the expression of feelings it could influence, why and when this happens and with which outcome.



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