lecture series: “on interactivity” – marcelo coelho

29 Nov

Title of the Lecture: „Computational Materials“

Speaker: Marcelo Coelho

Date: December 11th, 2012

Place: ZHDK, Ausstellungsstrasse 60, CH-8005 Zurich. Room SQ 504

Time: 5 pm

Organized by Karmen Franinovic (Interaction Design Program)


At the boundary between people, objects and spaces, we encounter a broad range of material and surfaces. Their properties perform functional roles such as permeability, comfort or illumination, while conveying information such as an object’s affordances, composition, or history of use. However, today materials are static and can neither adapt to our changing needs, nor communicate dynamic information. As technology advances and we progress towards a world imbued with programmable materials, how will artists and designers create physical substrates that are adaptive and can take full advantage of our sensory apparatus?

In this talk, I will present my art, design and research practice, which seeks to create new human experiences by conceptually and technically intertwining the capabilities and aesthetics of both computers and materials.


Marcelo Coelho is an artist, designer and researcher, whose work explores how physical and computational materials can be used to create new human experiences. Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Marcelo holds a BFA in Computation Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, and a PhD from the Fluid Interfaces Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Prior to moving to Cambridge, Marcelo was a Research Partner at XS Labs, where he worked on the development of paper computers, shape-changing garments and interactive textiles by combining ordinary materials and electronics through a broad range of craft and digital fabrication techniques. At MIT, his research focused on the development of programmable surfaces and amorphous displays that take full advantage of our senses and reveal new opportunities for computational aesthetics.

Marcelo’s work has been exhibited internationally, in venues such as Ars Electronica, Design Miami/Basel, The Corcoran Gallery, The Creators Project, The Tech Museum, Riflemaker Gallery, and Johnson Trading Gallery. His work has also won several awards including the W Hotels Designer of the Future Award, Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica and Honorable Mention from ID Magazine Design Review. Academically, Marcelo’s research has been published in books, journals, popular press and academic conferences, and he has taught courses on DIY Manufacturing and Techniques for Design and Fabrication.

Marcelo currently spends his time building large-scale interactive sculptures at Zigelbaum + Coelho and etching nano-scale drawings at MIT, where he is a Research Affiliate and co-teaches Hands-On Foundations in Media Technology.




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