A runner doing I Seek the Nerves

I ran I Seek the Nerves at Berkeley Art Museum, as part of the Creativity and Cognition conference, with the help of my friends Matt & Amelia who live in San Francisco. About 50 people had a go.

In case you’re interested in knowing more about the practicalities of the performance, you can read the proposal.

It was quite an interesting place to run it, there were lots of constraints such as closed gates around the area, people in the way, uphills and downhills, different terrain (grass, concrete, gravel).

I did some interviews of participants, and also got a load of logfiles off the equipment, to allow me to explore how people played with the system.

Logfile graph from I Seek the Nerves
Logfile graph from I Seek the Nerves

This graph shows a participant who really went for it - the jumpy lines show the speed at which the person is running, whereas the straight lines show the speed the system requires them to run (which increases as they get further through the poem). Graph scales are time (in milliseconds) and speed (in a slightly rough numerical measure that doesn’t really have a scale). An interesting thing about this participant, can be seen in the green jumpy line in the middle - they clearly went quite fast for a fair bit of time, then (at about 110,000) they noticed the poem fading out and put on a final burst of speed.

One participant talked about a strategy they used to do this, by using the higher up parts of the area and the downhill ramps coming off them in order to get the boost they needed for the last section:

“well, I saved myself up for the downhill bit, knowing it was going to get harder and I thought, well the downhill would give me a boost … so I ran round in circles up there.”

There were loads of interesting things in the interviews and the logfile data. The only downside of this dataset is that there is no correlation between people interviewed and logfile datasets (the logfile datasets are essentially just one big logfile per set of equipment). This is inevitable when running such a large number of people with only 3 people to put it on, take it off and interview people - in the future I plan to do some runs with one person at a time so that I can link the data together.

Finally, it was really cool to see people just going out and doing things with running that they might not have done before - as one person said:

“I found myself running for the sake of running, like, running in, around the building, just, running in all kinds of weird places.”

Which is really what it is all about - how cool is that?

Related themes: I seek the nerves under your skin, Performances, Publications,