Kirk Woolford

Kirk Woolford

Reader in Digital Media Arts, DMA PhD Programme Director
MFA, MS Design, BSCS

Academic and research departments

Department of Music and Media.



Research interests

Research projects

Research collaborations

My publications


Woolford KA (2013) Kusho: written in the air,
Guedes C, Woolford K (2007) Controlling aural and visual particle systems through human movement, Proceedings of the 4th Sound and Music Computing Conference, SMC 2007 pp. 200-203
This paper describes the methods used to construct an interactive installation using human motion to animate both an aural and visual particle system in synch. It outlines the rotoscoping, meta-motion processing, and visual particle system software. The paper then goes into a detailed explanation of the audio software developed for the project.
Woolford K, Dunn S (2014) Micro Mobilities and affordances of Past Places, In: Leary J (eds.), Past Mobilities: Archaeological Approaches to Movement and Mobility pp. 113-128 Ashgate
The careful excavation of physical evidence and examination of contexts and provenance allow us to make informed hypotheses about the physical construction and location of past structures, but is it possible to inform our understandings of how people moved around and through these structures? Is there any manner in which we can use the same physical evidence to infer how these structures were used? Can we apply understandings of how human perception informed past people about the meanings of environmental objects? Can we apply elements of Experimental Archaeology in an attempt to replicate past processes? Can we borrow from J. J. Gibson?s theories of affordance or direct-perception, where objects and events have inherent meaning detected and exploited by human beings without mental calculation to aid our understanding of Past Places? Do ecological approaches to embodiment and cognition help us to understand relationships between past peoples, their tools, their environments, and how all of these elements function together as a system? If human movements, or moving humans, are added to heritage reconstructions without consideration of how environment, artifact, perception, and action are linked, they become aesthetic adornments. However, if movement is captured and applied with rigour similar to that applied to the materials used for the reconstructions, the virtual models become more than sculptures and can more usefully reflect the activities and behaviours conjectured to have taken place in the location.
England D, Spence J, Latulipe C, Edmonds E, Candy L, Schiphorst T, Bryan-Kinns N, Woolford K (2014) Curating the Digital: Spaces for Art and Interaction, CHI ?14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems pp. 21-24 ACM
This workshop intends to use the key strength of the CHI Community; research linked to practice, to design an Art Catalog for CHI. The workshop will start with an examination of current research in curating interactive art. The outcomes of the first phase of the workshop will then feed into Design Charrette exercises that will involve prototyping an Art Catalog and developing ideas for presenting a future Art Gallery event as part of the CHI conference. The results from the workshop will then form the basis of an agenda of a Spotlight SIG meeting where we will discuss the nature of the CHI Art Catalog. Workshop outcomes will also be disseminated to a wider audience.
Woolford K (2006) Will.0.w1sp (?willow-wisp?), Performance Research 11 4 pp. 30-38 - 30-38
Will-o'-the-Wisp, Irrlicht, Candelas, nearly every culture has a name for the mysterious blue white lights seen drifting through marshes and meadows. Whether they are lights of trooping faeries, wandering souls, or glowing swamp gas, they all exhibit the same behavior. They dance ahead of people, but when approached, they vanish and reappear just out of reach. Will.0.w1sp creates new dances of these mysterious lights, but just as with the originals, when a viewer ventures too close, the lights scatter, spin, spiral then reform and continue the dance just beyond the viewer's reach.
Nee C, Wainwright L, White M, Pascu T, Barker L, Woolford K (2014) New methods for examining expertise in burglars in natural and simulated environments: preliminary findings, Psychology, Crime and Law 21 (5) pp. 507-513 Taylor & Francis
Expertise literature in mainstream cognitive psychology is rarely applied to criminal behaviour. Yet, if closely scrutinised, examples of the characteristics of expertise can be identified in many studies examining the cognitive processes of offenders, especially regarding residential burglary. We evaluated two new methodologies that might improve our understanding of cognitive processing in offenders through empirically observing offending behaviour and decision-making in a free-responding environment. We tested hypotheses regarding expertise in burglars in a small, exploratory study observing the behaviour of ?expert? offenders (ex-burglars) and novices (students) in a real and in a simulated environment. Both samples undertook a mock burglary in a real house and in a simulated house on a computer. Both environments elicited notably different behaviours between the experts and the novices with experts demonstrating superior skill. This was seen in: more time spent in high value areas; fewer and more valuable items stolen; and more systematic routes taken around the environments. The findings are encouraging and provide support for the development of these observational methods to examine offender cognitive processing and behaviour.
Woolford KA, Guedes C (2007) Particulate Matters: Generating Particle Flows from Human Movement, Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Multimedia pp. 691-696 ACM
This paper describes the methods used to construct an interactive installation using human motion to animate both an aural and visual particle system in synch. It outlines the rotoscoping, meta-motion processing, and visual particle system software. The paper then goes into a detailed explanation of the audio software developed for the project.
Woolford K, Guedes C (2008) Echo Locations, ACM SIGGRAPH 2008 Art Gallery pp. 76-76 ACM
Woolford KA (2013) NEW PHOTOGRAPHY A Perverse Confusion Between the Live and the Real, Leonardo Electronic Almanac 19 (3) pp. 88-107 Leonardo/ISAST
This paper focuses on the use of photographic images in performance. Specifically, it explores notions of liveness, realness, and place within a black-box performance space. The paper starts with a discussion of the noeme, or essence, of Photography and its relationship with the live and the real. It then discusses issues of ?New Media? and how social and networked media have changed the act of viewing photographs, but not the essence of photography. The paper presents case studies where the author shot thousands of photographs and used live, digital techniques to give these images movement reminiscent of the original performers and locations combined with either live music, or live dance performance and asks how the use of real-time interactive media has changed the experience for the performers and the audience, why the collaborators wanted to go beyond simply presenting ?slide-shows,? how the liveness of the still images animated the individual performances, how the politics of representation can direct which images are used and finally asks how photography and our experience of photographs is changing in our highly networked
Woolford KA, Dunn S (2013) Reconfiguring Experimental Archaeology Using 3D Movement Reconstruction, In: Bowen J, Keene S, Ng K (eds.), Electronic Visualisation in Arts and Culture 5 pp. 277-291 Springer
The Motion in Place Platform was an infrastructure experiment which sought to provide a ?deep? mapping of reconstructed human movement. It was a collaboration between Animazoo, a Brighton-based motion hardware company, digital humanities and informatics researchers from the University of Sussex, King?s College London, and the University of Bedfordshire. Both 3D reconstruction and Virtual Reality (VR) in archaeology have been used to a great extent in the presentation and interpretation of archaeological sites in the past 20 years. However, there remains a predominant focus on their use as a means of illustration which, while enhancing the visual perception of the site, facilitates only passive consumption by the audience. This chapter reports on two linked experiments which sought to use motion capture technology to test the validity of digital reconstruction in exploring interpretations of the use of space, using domestic experimental round house buildings of the British Iron Age. Contemporary human movement was captured in a studio-based representation of a round house, and compared with comparable movements captured in an experimental reconstruction of the same environment. The results indicate significant quantitative variation in physical human responses to the two environments.
Woolford KA, Dunn S (2013) Experimental Archeology and Serious Games: Challenges of Inhabiting Virtual
ACM Journal of Computing and Cultural Heritage 6 (4) 16 pp. 16:1-16:15 Association for Computing Machinery
Experimental archaeology has long yielded valuable insights into the tools and techniques that featured in past peoples? relationship with the material world around them. However, experimental archaeology has, hitherto, confined itself to rigid, empirical and quantitative questions. This paper applies principles of experimental archaeology and serious gaming tools in the reconstructions of a British Iron Age Roundhouse. The paper explains a number of experiments conducted to look for quantitative differences in movement in virtual vs material environments using both ?virtual? studio reconstruction as well as material reconstruction. The data from these experiments was then analysed to look for differences in movement which could be attributed to artefacts and/or environments. The paper explains the structure of the experiments, how the data was generated, what theories may make sense of the data, what conclusions have been drawn and how serious gaming tools can support the creation of new experimental heritage environments.
England D, Spence JC, Latulipe CE, Edmonds EA, Candy L, Schiphorst T, Bryan-Kinns N, Woolford K (2014) Art and Interaction SIG: Cataloging the Digital Arts, Extended Abstracts of the 32nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems pp. 1115-1118 ACM
Over the last three years the Digital Arts community of CHI has established itself and is a Spotlight for CHI2014. The focus for CHI2014 is the development of a Catalog for the Digital Arts that we hope will lead on to an Art Gallery as a future CHI conference event. This SIG will be preceded by a workshop "Curating the Digital" that will have as its outcome a research-informed design of the Catalog. The purpose of the SIG will be to open the Catalog design to wider audience participation and discussion, and invite the CHI community to support the development of the Catalog.
Woolford KA, Dunn S (2012) Reconfiguring experimental archaeology using 3D reconstruction, EVA London 2012 Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, Computer Arts Society (2012) pp. 172-178 British Computer Society
Woolford KA (2007) Will.0.W1Sp, Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Multimedia pp. 379-380 ACM
Woolford KA, Kozel S (1999) Utterance 5: Mesh Performance Partnerships, Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts 4 (2) pp. 61-63
Woolford K (2014) Capturing Human Movement in the Wild, Proceedings of the 2014 International Workshop on Movement and Computing pp. 19:19-19:24 ACM
Woolford KA (2014) Defining Accuracy in the use of Kinect v2 for Exercise Monitoring, Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Movement and Computing pp. 112-119
This paper focuses presents a comparison of accuracy and
precision between Kinect v2 (low-cost, markerless) and
Qualisys motion capture (expensive, marker-based system)
for use in healthcare applications. The paper discusses
differences between marker-based and markerless tracking
through an examination of accuracy (closeness of a
measured quantity to its actual value) and precision (or the
proximity of repeated measurements) and the difference
between precisely tracking markers, but inferring the body
structure between them vs directly, but imprecisely tracking
body parts.

The paper discusses issues detracting from the accuracy of
marker-based tracking including human-error in markerplacement
and varying methods of post-processing marker
data to infer joint or bone centers. The paper then presents a
comparison of the Kinect for Windows V2 (K4Wv2)
against a clinical system, and suggests situations where the
Kinect system may be useable in a healthcare environment.

Woolford K, Blackwell AF, Norman SJ, Chevalier C (2010) Crafting a Critical Technical Practice, Leonardo 43 (2) pp. 202-203 MIT Press
In recent years, the category of ?practice-based research? has become an essential component of discourse around public funding and evaluation of the arts in British higher education. When included under the umbrella of public policy concerned with ?the creative industries", technology researchers often find themselves collaborating with artists who consider their own participation to be a form of practice-based research. We are conducting a study under the ?Creator? Digital Economies project asking whether technologists, themselves, should be considered as engaging in ?practice-based? research, whether this occurs in collaborative situations, or even as a component of their own personal research.
Woolford KA, Norman SJ, Blackwell A, Warren L (2010) Gesture and Embodied Interaction: Capturing Motion/Data/Value, Leonardo: Art Science and Technology 43 (2) pp. 198-199 MIT Press
Gesture and Embodied Interaction is a five-month practice-led scoping project which explored motion capture development perspectives from artistic, technological and business innovation standpoints. It convened an interdisciplinary community from the arts, sciences and business studies, experienced in practice-driven collaborative research. Effort was focused on two prototyping workshops in Newcastle and Cambridge, bridged by an interim work session to optimize collaboration. A final creative industries seminar in Cambridge allowed debate with a wider stakeholder community. This paper provides an overview of our activities, findings and future directions.
Woolford KA (1995) "VRB?", Die Zukunft des Körpers (The future of the Body), Kunstforum International 132 pp. 188-193
Woolford KA, Dunn S (2014) Motion in Place: a Case Study of Archaeological Reconstruction Using Motion Capture, Revive the Past: Proceedings of the 39th Conference in Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (39) pp. 98-106 Amsterdam University Press
Woolford KA, Dunn S (2011) Motion in Place Platform: Virtual (Re)Presentations of Iron Age Movement, Proceedings of the The 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art
Woolford KA, Guedes C, Burfin JM, Lopes F, Costa G, Gomes J, Rebelo P, Penha R, Dias R (2012) CONCERTO X,
A collaborative composition by Carlos Guedes, Filipe Lopes, Gustavo Costa, José Alberto Gomes, Pedro Rebelo, Rui Penha, and Rui Dias for large ensemble, ensemble of improvisers, live electronics and robotic gamelan, with Carlos Zingaro (Violin) and Nuno Aroso (Percussion) as special guests, and computer graphics by Kirk Woolford. The ensemble is part of Guimarães?s Fundação Orquestra Estúdio and will be conducted by Jean-Marc Burfin. Concerto X is a commission from Guimarães 2012, European Capital of Culture.
Woolford K, Guedes C (2008) Echo Locations, ACM SIGGRAPH 2008 Talks pp. 17:1-17:1 ACM
Atzori P, Woolford K (1997) Extended-Body: Interview with Stelarc, In: Kroker A, Kroker M (eds.), Digital Delirium pp. 194-199 Palgrave Macmillan
Stelarc has been extending his body through performances since the late 1960s. His performances include attaching a "Third Hand" to his body, extending himself into virtual space with a "Virtual Hand", and over 25 "suspension" events where he hung his entire body from hooks piercing his skin. Stelarc?s artistic strategy revolves around the idea of "enhancing the body" both in a physical and technical manner. It originates as a polarism between the "primal desire" to defeat the force of gravity with primitive rituals and a low- tech and the hi-tech performance with the third arm and the related cybersystem. His intention in both cases is to "express an idea with his direct experience."
Woolford KA (2013) Moments in Place,
Moments in Place is a series of site-specific virtual performances, created for the Brighton Digital Festival, inviting visitors to consider movement qualities of different locations in the city of Brighton as well as the range of artworks in Brighton's streets.

Each of the performances were recorded on site using portable motion capture systems. When phones or tablets are pointed at select urban artworks, a performance is rendered live in 3D allowing the audience to walk around and explore the relationship between the performance and location.

Additional publications