S.A.R.A. – synesthetic augmented reality application

Title: S.A.R.A. – synesthetic augmented reality application – documentation
Year: 2012 (start)
Medium: video projectors and sound driven by iOS application for 4 dancers


Click here to download print quality images.
Press: Cellar door press coverage
Upcoming performance: ingenuityfest 2014


S.A.R.A. – (synesthetic augmented reality application) is an App exploring the potential of using a mobile device as a unique and wearable musical interface. S.A.R.A. was originally developed as a standalone App to translate the surrounding environment into sounds on mobile devices (iPhone and Android) creating a digitally augmented synesthetic experience. The imagery captured via the mobile device’s onboard camera is translated into synesthetic-inspired sounds. In its original development S.A.R.A. has been graciously supported with a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts – New Media Artworks Grant.
To demonstrate the capabilities the technology //benitez_vogl (Margarita Benitez Kent State University and Markus Vogl University of Akron) entered into a collaboration with Kimberly Karpanty (Kent State University) and her Travesty Dance Group in July 2012 to showcase the capabilities of the open source device. The choreography calls for several dancers wearing the app playing on a portable device in conjunction with a mini projector.
The App produces the video and the sound based on the camera input and the movement of the dancers. It investigates the use of wearable computing technology during performance as well as loosely bases it’s technological approach on ludological and synesthetic experiences to let the user explore it’s surrounding environments sonically. The role of performer is also augmented as they are now gatekeepers of what sounds are made as well as what images are projected by deciding what live imagery and angles look most appealing to rebroadcast. Performers can choose to project images on themselves, their co-performers or onto the architectural structures of the venue. This format allows for a completely new interaction with wearable technology – augmenting and mediating their performance via several technological input and output mechanisms while still maintaining choreography as well as allowing for subjective choices during the performance. The Human Computer Interaction between the dancers and the technology as extension of their bodies creates an altered/mediated/mitigated performance environment that is always unique to the specific performance venue.

S.A.R.A. is not only an interface and an interactive software application for consumption, play, discovery and joy but is a jump off point for a larger discussion on transformational strategies in regards to both S.A.R.A. as a wearable musical/performance interface but additionally in the Open Source distribution of S.A.R.A. as a tool.
The technology will be released open source and it is potentially possible to custom craft new versions for every performance or for other dance troupes to adapt the technology with their artistic vision. Creating the App for an existing platform device such as an ipod touch and utilizing a relatively inexpensive laser pico projector.

“Our media rich and technology filled life has given rise to a different level of understanding of digital structures. Media developers and artists alike introduce fresh behaviors in the way we communicate and deal with virtual data. The creation of the S.A.R.A. App hopefully will contribute to interesting dialogues by re-contextualizing the simple act of video capture by letting the user listen to their surrounding environments. Producing and releasing the App open source, letting interested users see and work with the code at no cost introduces an alternative to existing business models and in true educational spirit shall foster creative impacts for artists and performers. Critical thinkers can find a fertile ground for discussion and comments based on our approach to create tools for artists rather than artworks.”


Kent State University Dance performed with S.A.R.A. at Mini Maker Faire Cleveland March 29 2014.
performance @ mini maker faire cleveland
Concept, technology and sound: //benitez_vogl
Choreography and dance:Kim Karpanty, KSU Dance Caroline Goddard, Katherine Scekeres and Michelle Brown
Photo Credit: Andrew Krigline


Travesty Dance Group performed with S.A.R.A. at Collider6: data – Emily Davis Gallery – University of Akron Sept 12 2013.
performance @ Collider6: data:
Concept, technology and sound: //benitez_vogl
Choreography and dance:Kim Karpanty and Travesty Dance company
Photo Credit: Jeff Snowden
Video Credit: Nick Lopez


Collider6: data @ Emily Davis Gallery University of Akron:


Travesty Dance Group performed with S.A.R.A. at Bal Ingenuix – Halcyon Lodge May 3rd 2013.
performance @ bal ingenuix 2012 Halcyon Lodge:
Concept, technology and sound: //benitez_vogl
Choreography and dance:Kim Karpanty and Travesty Dance company
Photo Credit: Jeff Snowden
Video Credit: Keith Knittel


bal ingenuix 2013 @ Halcyon Lodge:


S.A.R.A. is now in beta version and creates it’s own sounds based on the movement of the phone and the input of the camera.
Furthermore it alters the video input and applies several filters. Travesty Dance Group performed with S.A.R.A. at Danceworks 2013 Short Cuts March 28-30 2013.
This is updated documentation of the performance of S.A.R.A. at the Cleveland Public Theater during Travesty Dance Group’s stellar Dance Works performance.
Choreography and dance:Kim Karpanty and Travesty Dance company
Concept, technology and sound: //benitez_vogl


Beta premiere @ Cleveland Public Theater danceworks 2013: short cuts:


These images and the video documentation are from Travesty dance companies‘s ALPHA (app without no generative sound) performance at Collider5: ingenuity at the
2012 Cleveland ingenuityfest.
Choreography and dance:Kim Karpanty and Travesty Dance company
Music By Bill Salak.
Photo Credit: Jeff Snowden
Concept, technology and sound: //benitez_vogl

Alpha premiere @ ingenuityfest 2012 Collider5:ingenuity:








::Latest Update::

We will perform S.A.R.A. at the Kent State University Fashion show on April 26.

//benitez_vogl develop work within a hybrid art praxis. They question contemporary issues concerning technology, such as exploring the mediation of information in our lives. Their works integrate installations, high tech/low tech materials from fiber, sound and art + technology practices. They have been collaborating since 2000 on interactive installations and sound works.