From Shapes to Bodies: Design for Manufacturing in the Prosthetic Instruments

the Prosthetic Instruments are a family of wearable instruments designed for use by dancers in a professional context. The instruments go on tour without the creators.
the piece was called ‘Les Gestes’ and was a tour in Canada. Instrument designers and composers were from McGill. The choreography and dancing was form a professional dance company in Montreal. Van Grimde Corps Secret.
there were a fuckton of people involved in the production. Lighting gesigners, costume designers, etc all had a stake in instrument design.
One of these instruments was in a concert here and was great. It looks like part of a costume.
The three instruments are called spine, ribs and visors. They are hypothetical extensions to the body. Extra limbs for your body. Dancers wear them in performance. They are removable in this context.
Ribs and Visors are extremely similar. They are touch sensitive. The spine has vertebrae connected by pvc tubing and a PET-G rod.
Professional artistic considerations – durability, usability. backups required. limiting funding and timeframes. small scale manufacturing. How are these stored and transported? what about batteries? Is there anything that needs special consideration or explanation (how to reboot).
Collaboration requires iterative design and tweaking.
Bill Buxton talks of ‘artist spec’, the most demanding standard of design. People have spent year developing a technique and your tool needs to fit in that technique.


  • Why mix acrylic and pvc?
    There is a lot of stress on the instruments, so they use tough materials.
  • Can you talk about the dancer’s experiences?
    The dancers did not seek technical knowledge, but they wanted to know how to experience and interact with it. They had preferences for certain instruments.

Published by

Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

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