The Electronic Man @ ADD Festival @ MACRO

Less than a month from the celebration of the Marshall McLuhan Centennial in Rome, The Electronic Man will participate to a new event between art, technology, performances, installations.

ADD Festival in Rome at the MACRO Future museum

ADD Festival in Rome at the MACRO Future museum

The Electronic Man will be the special McLuhan project for ADD Festival second edition!

From 22th to 26th June you will find us at MACRO Testaccio (Rome) with a new interactive installation.

For the occasion, a whole wall will be dedicated to the contributions sent by the all performers and authors disseminating allover the world the body of this new connective artwork and identity.

Come to visit the new installation at MACRO Testaccio and join us in the performance! All the contributions send until the 20th Jun will be printed and exposed during the Festival, and published on the official site of the project (instruction below).

And please: if you have an iPhone/iPad, download for free the application and experience on your body the creation of a new global sensoriality!

Electronic Man is an opportunity to feel connected to your fellow humans.

the Electronic Man

the Electronic Man


Give an emotion to the Electronic Man and help us to disseminate its digital body! It will only take you a couple of minutes:

1. download the PDF file at the address:

2. print it out: it contains the stickers that allow people to become part of the electronic man

3. cut the stickers apart, and attach them somewhere in your city, in your office, in your favourite bar, in your school, wherever you want

4. take a picture of the sticker and send it to us at (If you want, include your name, a link to your website, and a short bio: we will include all images and info at the exhibit for the big event for McLuhan’s Centennial celebrations in Rome, and on the Electronic Man’s website

5. if you want, you can scan the QRCode on the sticker with your smartphone: it will take you directly to the Electronic Man, and you will be able to join its ubiquitous body

Or, if you don’t know how to scan a QRCode, you can go to this address:

(both modes will ask you for your location: it is used to understand the distribution of the body of the Electronic Man, we won’t do anything bad with/to your info, and we will throw it away immediately)

**ATTENTION!** if you will send us your contributions until the 20 June, your photos will be printed and exhibited from becoming part of the installation at the MACRO Testaccio!




The Enectronic Man @Marshal McLuhan Centennial, Rome, Università La Sapienza: backstage & installation

First Body Disemination: the Electronic Man urba stickers allover the world


The Electronic Man for iPhone and iPad


Salvatore Iaconesi: concept | design | technology

Oriana Persico: communication | process | networks

FakePress Publishing: production

Art is Open Source: production

Maria Pia Rossignaud: curator | production

Media Duemila, Associazione Amici di MD, Osservatorio TuttiMedia: production

Dipartimento di Comunicazione e Ricerca Sociale della Sapienza: event production

Derrick de Kerckove: scientific direction | inspiration

Marshall McLuhan: this project could not have existed without him

More info at:

ADD Festival

Convegno “McLuhan: Tracce di Futuro” – 31 maggio Università “La Sapienza”, Roma

FakePress Publishing

Art is Open Source

Media Duemila

Osservatorio TuttiMedia


the Electronic Man app for iPhone/iPad

the Electronic Man for iPhone/iPad

the Electronic Man for iPhone/iPad

The Electronic Man mobile application for iPhone/iPad is now available for download.


This application will let you join in the global performance from wherever you are, and will allow you to experience people’s participation to the project directly from your pockets.

The application will be including several additions and updates during the next few days, so be sure to download it so that you will be automatically be updated of these new features, creating a real, ubiquitous, connective body with your fellow humans.

the Electronic Man: report on MediaDuemila

the Electronic Man

the Electronic Man

The Electronic Man performance is going really well. Many people are participating from all around the world and in just a couple of days we will be publishing the updated results and some more lovely news.

In the meanwhile: here at the link below, you can find an article we published on Mediaduemila with some interesting reports that show some information which you might not expect from a performance of this kind. And it also shows a wonderful scenario for intersection and collaboration between arts and sciences. The article is in italian but it is easily translatable and the numeric data is sufficiently simple to interpret.

Read the report of the Electronic Man performance, on MediaDuemila


the Electronic Man, updates and the McLuhan Centennial

The Electronic Man

The Electronic Man

Some updates for the Electronic Man global performance

Check out the new interface we created on the Electronic Man website:

We made the site lighter and we’re fully exploiting the possibilities offered by HTML5. We’re also using some Processing.js so feel free to check around the code of the interfaces if you want: there’s somethings you might be interested in.

Participation is wonderful! Everyone seems to be really excited by this experiment and there have been thousands of visits and hundreds of emotional contributions to the body of the Electronic Man.

Check out the website to see the information visualizations showing the situation in real time.

We’re also getting ready for the celebrations of the McLuhan’s Centennial in Rome (see the info of the event HERE). The Electronic Man will be officially presented in that occasion together with all the conference participants:  Gianni Letta, James Fox (Canada’s embassador in Rome), Derrick de Kerckhove, Mario Morcellini, Francesco Passerini Glazel, Gianpiero Gamaleri, Norman Doidge and Philippe Cahen and Maria Pia Rossignaud.

Here below for you the first images of the Electronic Man’s images disseminated across several countries (more will come in the next few days). Remember that you can download the PDF of the Electronic Man’s stickers at this link.

If you stick them out somewhere, please send us your name, a picture (of yourself or of the sticker, or both), a short bio and we’ll add it to the credits for the performance (we’re putting them up on the websites the day before the conference)

And now, below: the Electronic Man all over the world! :)


Publishing emotions

I was always facinated by We feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar.

The possibility to design using emotions has always intrigued me and, yet, it seemed like an unachievable task.

The notion of being able to identify emotions in an automatic (or assisted) way is quite a complicated activity, and it needs to enact complex classifications and profund analisys of cultures, contexts, noises, ironies.

FakePress - Publishing Emotions

FakePress - Publishing Emotions


Some theories come to our rescue while approaching the enormous feat of identifying and classifying emotions.

Plutchik‘s psychoevolutionary theory is based on ten postulates that identify basic emotions as entities derived from primordial behaviours, with actual, complex, emotions being represented as linear combinations of the basic ones, disposed in 2D and 3D geometries that highlight similarities and opposites among them.

Paul Ekman researched on models for identification and classification that have been very useful in the analisys of facial expression.  Our faces are one of the most evident places in which our emotions show, and Ekman’s research is very important from a cross-cultural point of view, as he identified a limited set of emotion/facial expression pairs that are virtually unmodified across all cultural extractions.

Magda B. Arnold provided an incredible surge in interest on the theories of psychology of emotions by researching them in the 1940s, when the behavioural perspectives were the main trend. Her research on the interrelations between emotions and the tendency to perform actions is somewhat outdated, but a milestone in the scientific history on these themes.

Nico Frijda focused, like Ekman, on the connections between facial expressions and emotions, in somewhat of a behavioural perspective in which emotions were the indicators of the readiness and tendency to perform actions.

Carroll IzardJeffrey Allan Gray, John B. Watson and Jaan Panksepp provided a somewhat more physical form of interpretation of emotions, creating their own schemes for classification originated from the idea of basic emotions as being hardwired into our bodies and primordial mind setups. Watson specifically dedicated several chapters of his books to the analisys of emotions as hereditary modes of response.

William James and Carl Lange produced a theory on basic emotions according to which within human beings, as a response to experiences in the world, the autonomic nervous system creates physiological events such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of the mouth. Emotions, then, are feelings which come about as a result of these physiological changes, rather than being their cause. James and Lange arrived at the theory independently. Lange specifically stated that vasomotor changes are emotions. A bodily connection with emotion and a classification scheme deriving from it.

William McDougall produced a theory intercnnecting emotions and basic instincts, in main opposition with Watson’s behaviourism. According to McDougall, behavior is not simply a response to a stimuli but is goal seeking and purposive. For McDougall, a person’s emotional core was stable and unimpacted by learning.

O. H. Mowrer presented some interesting results on the possibility of interpreting emotions through the lens of a learning process. His exaples were particularly effective on guilt and other forms of emotion that were easily imposed by cultural contexts.

Silvan Tomkins focused his research on understanding the level of neural activity connected to the activation of emotions. His Freudian derives were originated from the idea of the behavioural importance of the mechanisms generating from “lacking” something. His classification of nine pairs of affects depict this idea.

Oatley and Johnson-Laird assume in their theory, called by them “communicative theory of emotions” (Oatley & Jenkins, 1996, p. 254), a hierarchy of parallelly working processing instances, which work on asynchronously different tasks.  These instances are coordinated by a central control system (or operating system).  The control system contains a model of the entire system. This is a semantic theory of emotion that is particularly interesting for our purposes, as it is specifically designed to be implemented on a computer.

Ortony, Clore and Collins assume that emotions develop as a consequence of certain cognitions and interpretations. Their theory exclusively concentrates on the cognitive elicitors of emotions. They postulate that three aspects determine these cognitions: events, agents, and objects. The main objective of their research is to investigate the possibility to design a formal system or a computer that is able to draw conclusions about emotional episodes which are presented to it.

Roseman bases a theory on a model in which five cognitive dimensions determine whether an emotion arises and which one it is. The first dimension describes whether a person possesses a motivation to a desired situational state or a motivation away of an unwanted situational state. The dimension thus knows thus the states “positive” and “negative”. The second dimension describes whether the situation agrees with the motivational state of the person or not. The dimension thus knows thus the states “situation present” or “situation absent”. The third dimension describes whether an event is noticed as certain or only as a possibility. This dimension knows the conditions “certain” and “uncertain”. The fourth dimension describes whether a person perceives the event as deserved or undeserved, with the two states”deserved” and “undeserved”. The fifth dimension finally describes, from whom the event originates. This dimension knows the states “the circumstances”, “others” or “oneself”. From the combination of these five dimensions and their values a table can be arranged (Roseman, 1984), from which, according to Roseman, emotions can be predicted.

For Scherer five functionally defined subsystems are involved with emotional processes.  An information-processing subsystem evaluates the stimulus through perception, memory, forecast and evaluation of available information.  A supporting subsystem adjusts the internal condition through control of neuroendocrine, somatic and autonomous states.  A leading subsystem plans, prepares actions and selects between competitive motives.  An acting subsystem controls motor expression and visible behaviour.  A monitor subsystem finally controls the attention which is assigned to the present states and passes the resulting feedback on to the other subsystems. Scherer is especially interested in the information-processing subsystem.  According to his theory this subsystem is based on appraisals which Scherer calls stimulus evaluation checks (SEC).  The result of these SECs causes again changes in the other subsystems.

A very interesting approach comes from Aaron Sloman, according to whom emotions are not independent processes, but develop as emergent phenomenon from the interaction of the different subsystems of an intelligent system.  Therefore, no necessity exists for an own “emotion module”.  A look at psychological emotion theories leads Sloman to the conclusion:
“Disagreements about the nature of emotions can arise from failure to see how different concepts of emotionality depend on different architectural features, not all shared by all the animals studied.” (Sloman and Logan, 1998, p. 6)
Sloman’s approach intentionally disregards physiological accompaniments of emotions.  For him these are only peripheral phenomena: “They are peripheral because essentially similar emotional states, with similar social implications, could occur in alien organisms or machines lacking anything like our expression mechanisms.” (Sloman, 1992c, p. 20)

Dacher Keltner focuses on a social approach to emotions. In his own words: “My own studies have focused on the social functions of emotion, arguing that emotions enable individuals to respond adaptively to the problems and opportunities that define human social living. Based on this approach to emotion, I have documented the appeasement functions of embarrassment, the commitment enhancing properties of love and desire, and how awe motivates attachment to leaders and principles that transcend the self.” This is a really interesting perspective, as it accounts for the possibility to analyze emotions from a point of view that encompasses complex interactions among social contexts, cultural backgrounds, emergent dynamics.


The visualization shown on FakePress’s homepage represents the beginning phase of a design process.

It uses Plutchik’s classification and applies by leveraging the availability of several realtime search engines that allow our systems to fetch information from a multitude of sources on social networks, blogs, websites. Services such as Collecta, OneRiot and the APIs offered by Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed and Google .

This first implementation had two main goals in mind:

  • the possibility to design and implement a system that is able to analyze great amounts of data in realtime to search, identify and classify “emotional data”, meaning data that can be interpreted as the expression of an emotional state
  • the identification of representation schemes that are characterized by a high degree of expressivity, accessibility and synthesis

What we wanted was a “device” that was able to present low-doses of highly expressive information obtained by processing great amounts of information that were collected as being “emotion expression related”.

This first prototype does just that:

  • data is priodically collected using the aforementioned realtime services (every 2 minutes, the system collects the last 10 minutes of information, keeping a history of 40 minutes in its databases)
  • processing the data, before storing it (also to avoid problems related to privacy and intellectual property), by selecting the information regarded as “interesting” and “relevant” (e.g.: sentences with a definite structure, such as “i feel…”, and others), anonymizing it (removing references to actual sources) and, finally, storing it in a parametricized way (e.g.: the whole sentences making up messages are not stored; the list of words, relevancies and phrase structures are)
  • use Plutchik’s classification, applied using about 2000 synonims (and growing) to identify and classify emotional states
  • grouping data together with its identification indexes to aggregate it into the synthetic, graphic form shown on the visualization

Plutchik’s classification is far from satisfactory from our point of view. But it served two purposes: on one side it was easy enough to implement (in its necessarily approximated form for what concerns the need to filter input data); on the other side it offered useful insights for the deisgn of a global process that we will use for the next steps.

Next steps

In the next steps this concept will be expanded in the following directions:

  • implement a different classification methodology to achieve a more significant result: we will probabily use Keltner’s or Sloman’s methodologies to obtain results that assess social and anthropological issues
  • expand mechanisms and systems to include the possibility to analyze multiple cultural contexts, different languages and diverse communities or individuals
  • include in the system a generalization of the input layer, to be able to connect devices that collect biometric information to be used side by side with written language and other types of interaction to infer emotional states
  • create a multi-community structure, where individuals can join in to share and disseminate their emotional states
  • expand the set of visualizations and representations, to include the creation of emotional maps, body stimulations, visual compass-like visualizations

We will head toward a broadened definition of augmented reality in which “ordinary reality” is augmented with emotional layers acting as “interpretative layers” on the world we live in. What happens when i can share my emotions with people, associating them to specific places, times, objects, environments, bodies? What kind of comunication forms can arise? What kind of education processes can this practice stimulate? How can cultural production, knowledge sharing, education, creativity, innovation, entertainment, commerce, ethics, politics and, in general, science  and arts benefit from such practices.

Stay tuned and collaborate with us while we start this research process.

FakePress welcomes contributions and participation from interested researchers, artists, creatives, interaction designers, academics, entrepreneurs and experimenters wishing to join in the research process.

[fundamental contributions for this text come from this webpage ]