Dancing on the Trackpad

A project that reinterpret trackpad gestures into dance performances.

Featured in The Conference For Research On Choreographic Interfaces , Grandoff Centre, Brown University, Providence, RI


After research on existing trackpad gestures in Apple’s operating system, I further analyzed and categorized the possible movements of the trackpad gesture into nouns, verbs, and adverbs, as if forming the grammar of a sentence. Based on this research, I developed a graphics system that can map all possible movements on the trackpad. For example, Opening Mission Control in MacOS is described as three fingers (noun) swipe up (verb) the trackpad slowly (adverb). Using this new notation system, I transcribed functional hand gestures on the trackpad such as running a Google search for “smiley”or sending a friend request on Facebook. The result of the transcription creates multiple patterns that visualize the relationship between the hand, physical movement, and the trackpad. After that, I let performers move their hands by following the transcription. Since each of them uses their trackpad differently, they create multiple hand dances for one task. Mapping the movement that already existed in the trackpad and developing a graphics system that distills temporal activities—traces of the moment. The project expands the trackpad into a performance space.