Amphibious Trilogies

A dynamic relational terrella

Movement in the interface. Moving interfaces. Interfaces of movement. A miniature world of activity, an expanse of sky and land and sea, of islands, ponds and passages. These you see manifested in the Amphibious Trilogies website. It was important to develop a graphic, dynamic interface to convey the kinetic and the communicative in the project’s overall relational ontology where ‘journeying’ and becoming were central.

Mercator’s 1595 map of the Arctic. Mercator, Gerhard, 1512-1594

This a site that has drawn on an underlying game engine architecture to allow users to navigate a pseudo 3D space. In doing so, elements in the interface move, and through graphic and spatial design relations between diverse and connected elements may be identified, pursued and distinguished.

The site is more than a set of disparate elements, more than a distributed flotsam and jetsam of plural participants. Entries are written and imaged on themes, and linkages between items are made through the use of categories and tags. One needs to move about the interface to explore its surfaces and depths, to rotate and zoom to investigate its content and diversity of images and contexts.

The circular default image of the whole site is a terrella of sorts. The terrella was developed by William Gilbert and published in 1914 and taken up by the Norwegian Kristian Birkelund in his experiments with magnetism and the earth’s poles, and the aurora borealis.

The latter we have pursued actively in the project, resulting in collaborative work with another former AHO PhD interaction design student and interaction designer/artist Dr Anthony Rowe from Squidsoup in the UK. See our Aurora Imaginaris, one we envisage as a new terrella for dark times ….

Our project contains two terrella. One is the Aurora Imaginaris, an actual space of 3D projection inside our world. The other this website itself. A mini-world of moving, floating, filtered, drifting and connected elements that are like atomic particles, linked and distributed, in motion but each made of matter. Together mattering in their being made and moved in a relational whole. Being in and of and about the world where choreography may be more fully appreciated as providing expertise and embodied knowledge about movement as material.

‘Movement as material’ in interaction design is the stuff of yet another former AHO PhD design student, Assoc Prof Lise Hansen. There is much more than meets the eyes in connection design’s knowledge on interfaces, exhibitions, materials inquiry and mediating interfaces than is present in mainstream choreography. Lise’s thesis is an excellent read, as are her many other publications on movement as design material.

To think about movement in today’s world in the context of climate emergency, or perceptions and practices of fake and trustworthy news, of the societal pressure and forces of migration, survival and sustainability, of a globe exposed to its own carnivorous actions.


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.