Spontaneouse Wandering2022

How can we remain independent and express our freedoms in a world shaped by surveillance capitalism? How can technology be used cooperatively to explore vital experiences of intimacy with the spaces that surround us? Spontaneous Wandering is an exploration of sensuous and spiritual embodiment, an attempt to re-centre the bonds between our bodies and the sensuous terrains we inhabit through an examination of our relationships with technology.

By turning a wooden stick into a microcontroller, and with the use of a breath sensor, Spontaneous Wandering is an audio-visual installation that involves a particular form of interaction with an audience where they will be required to make sounds through the use of a singing bowl. Their presence registers as data through the way that they play the bowl, which in turn triggers a sonic experience that stimulates intuitive sense and reaction. Moreover, this personal sensuous development registers through breath, triggering visualisations from the machine, who functions as the external observer.

(Field) Live interactive Installation, Spatial sound, Immersive Experience, Physical Computing, Data Visualisation
(Tool used) Arduino Nano 33 IoT, Wind Sensor Rev. C, ESP 8266, Arduino, TouchDesigner, Ableton Live, Max
(Special Thanks to) Thomas Deacon, Mike Faulkner and John Wild


How can we reposition the contemporary situation with technology? How can I find possible methodologies in helping find a way in dealing with the relationship between machines and animates?

When I happened to find these photos of family rituals to connect with ancestors, which is always organised by the elder members of my family, my initial enquiry has then led me to think around surveillance capitalism. Referring to our ancestors, for the instinct of our species’ existence, humans have built bonds with every aspect with the tangible ground and sky, communicating spiritually and energetically with any animate beings in the world. (Abram, 1996) Yet, within the framework of surveillance capitalism, I came to realise the traditional animistic and participatory experience in which our ancestors once engaged with are eclipsed by the omnipresent information concentration and data analysis, we have overlooked and lost the connection between our body and the sensuous terrain.

Who owns ourselves? Are we the subject of ourselves, or are we the creature who is the object manipulated and constructed by machines?

Depart from my thesis and previous theoretical research, I then positioned my lens on the way the subject and the self is constructed through surveillance capitalism. That is our construction of self is constantly feeding back to us in a fatalistic illusion drawn by the algorithmic models.


Spontaneous Wandering targets an audience who have similar family backgrounds like me, which the previous generation have a more intimate relationship with nature and spiritual sensations, whereas the new generation are more relying on the mechanical artefacts. Also for those who find themselves being doomed in the fatalistic illusion shaped by Artificial Intelligence. I would like to awaken the sensuous connection and autonomy for people who are more epistemically infused by techno governance, through the use of technology, to bring a better understanding with each other.


Spontaneous Wandering challenges the conventional notion of having a linear narrative, and offers a new way of storytelling through the conceptual engagement of body, sound, visual and space in both disrupting and unsettling a sense of spatial reality.

{Sound + Breath + Surveillance Capitalism}

In alignment with Pauline Oliveros’s practice of Deep Listening, the work suggests an active listening, as well as a negotiation of the outer and inner embodiment where people are situated. Moreover, Mladen Dolar’s suggestion in A Voice and Nothing More, inspires me in articulating the practice of breathing, as both a vehicle for language, and an externalisation of the internal. It is intangible and essential for human living. I thus shift the focal lens to these things that are rendered spectral within algorithmic governance. They exists as a range of unnoticeable behaviours, reactions and thinking, which is often being coded out by surveillance capitalists, would be then generated through the act of listening while breathing. Meanwhile, the indeterminate and indescriptive quality of the experience allows participants to bring their own experience or situation into the work, and to potentially potentially connect us to ourselves again through the corporal experience.

Although bodily presence through breath and physical touch, often sits outside surveillance capitalism, as it is always being coded out, Spontaneous Wandering uses the information of this non-symbolic nature of the body not as behavioural surplus, but for opening up exploration and questions in re- establishing the ability in the ancient instinctive engagement between our sense and perceptual environment. It is an also alignment with Chuang-Tzu’s chaos-ontology, which is a chaotic process of meaning comes into being through bodily engagement – that I am letting conversations flow out spontaneously and find their channels and significance within the space. Besides, the project imitates the feedback loop of cause and consequence that surveillances capitalism constructs – our experience is constantly shifting from what we are experiencing.

Practical Discovery

The core enquiry of the project also emerged based on an evaluation of my practical research, which includes various embodied experimentations, interviews and workshop:

Sound therapy and breathing classes

Which includes Gong bath, Ancient Tibetan bowl bath, sound visualisation and sound therapy & Reiki.

Experimentation with different singing bowls 

Experimentation on the handmade bowl vs. Machine made bowl

Experimentation on moving in a space while playing the bowl (with eyes closed and with eyes open)

 Meditation within a small group

These experiments supports in experience and reconnection with my sensual bodily reaction. And they brought me to think about how technology can be used in this project, to support participants in establishing a more perceptual bodily awareness?

Having conversations with sound therapy practitioners 

I was inspired by the those practitioners, who are helping people today in their journey of self-discovery, self-empowerment and personal transformation.

Having conversation with shop owner from a Buddhist supply shop, we talked about the culture on practicing and techniques on using the bowl.

the conversation and experience I have made in the Arko Shop, it has become clear to me that I want to focus on practising using a singing bowl. It possesses different elements that I’m interested in — engaging in not just the sound the bowl makes, but also the physical relationship with actions through the abstract movement of the hand. Through this series of engagements, I aimed to look for our bodily responses of turning inside, to listen to our own conscious and sensual voice, which is expressed through breathing



While the sonic sample that I collected from the workshop informed my sonic design; the sketches that I collected, the water visualisation from the singing bowl experiments, and the shape of the vapour from our breath all inspired the visual of Spontaneous Wandering. 


(Interactive Plan)

(Sonic Component)

The ambisonic experience of Spontaneous Wandering was produced in Ableton with Max for Live, and responds to the movement of the stick of the singing bowl in real time in an interactive and generative way. I started with focusing experiments on the sonic production, then I added in interactive considerations while I was evaluating the experiments. I was hoping through the engagement with a singing bowl, the information of the non-symbolic nature of the body can be re-recognised, and used for not as surplus, but opening up exploration and thinking for people.

Through iterative adjustments in the process of making and experimenting, there are finally four simultaneous interactions according to the engagement of playing the singing bowl –

Note releaser

Midi will be generated randomly and released based on the velocity of the movement

Surround sound

How sound effects will go around the speakers is aligned with the direction and velocity of the circular motion of the stick

Effect trigger

Hitting the bowl will trigger instant sound effects

Tracks activator

As the visuals will start from small and grow when someone picks up the bowl, I decided to have a background master which is constantly playing and generating, while other tracks will be activated only until the stick has been picked up, to align with the experience that is dependent on the wind sensor

(Visual Component)

The visual design is consolidated by an abstract layer, which is constantly looping and generating at the back, an ambiguous, chaotic environment; and a top layer, which represents interaction and interference with different levels or aspects of embodiments – physical and spiritual, inner and outer, individual and collective, will be gradually build up based on the input collected from the wind sensor.


This highly interactive quality of Spontaneous Wandering requires a lot of calibration and testing.  Based on some observations from the user testing, as well as ethical considerations, I am aware of the need for guidance and information as an onboarding experience. Since I am asking people to use their body in a particular way to interact with the work, I need to inform the audience what the project is about, how their contribution and information will be used for the project.


© Jingyin Luo, 2022