Towards a screenless world

Bridging the physical and digital through a speculative augmented reality

The Computational Costume is a research project, undertaken for Domenico Mazza’s practice-based PhD, to imagine how what we do in our physical and digital worlds could be better intertwined in a speculative augmented reality future. The Costume shows how our interactions with the digital world could be situated directly on people and the physical world, rather than abstract representations of people and the physical world presented on screen-based devices today. The work is accessible to both audiences and a wide range of designers.

Through the medical record costumes information that would otherwise be buried away in files and ‘clouds’ can be situated directly on the body

The Computational Costume has been developed from theory on embodied interaction which posits how our experience of the world through our whole bodies gives meaning to what we experience through computers, like any other activity we do. This stands in contrast to the idea that what is on screen is separated from our reality, which is an outcome of the limitations of technology today that commands our focus to screens. The culmination of the research is a conceptual design that works through simple materials and filmmaking. An accompanying written exegesis is a development kit of sorts, which covers the motivations and rationale of the work as well as lessons learned through prototyping and presenting the work.

The latest iteration of Computational Costume uses video to present different perspectives such as public and private views of the costumes

Two works have been especially influential to Domenico’s research. Firstly, VIDEOPLACE (1988), an interactive artwork by Myron Kreuger, which captures the need for an alternative to the keyboard and screen as our main mode of digital expression from a deeply personal point of view. A more contemporary work, HYPER-REALITY (2016), by Keiichi Matsuda shows the dystopian trajectory of augmented reality as an overbearing and constant stream of floating visuals all over the world. However, in its darkest corner there is a glimpse of something useful—a thief wearing a virtual camouflage to conceal their identity. These works have acted as a touchstone for where augmented reality should and should not go in the future through Computational Costume.

Fundamentally, the Computational Costume is a physical and virtual body of work with potential that reaches far beyond what today’s technology or even what the research itself dictates. Conceptually it is possible to suggest that objects and even spaces have their own costume. Imagine an x-ray-like layer displayed on the surface of an object to highlight a problem with an internal part. Or the walls of your home adapting to the presence of different people or during different events. All you need are physical materials and a camera to begin imagining and presenting these ideas.

Project members

Domenico Mazza
Tim Dwyer (supervisor)
Jon McCormack (supervisor)
Vince Dziekan (supervisor)



The exhibition and exegesis have been documented online see