Diana Lipcanu

Erotic Beans

Imagine you enter a candle-lit room, filled with aromatic incense. You are in an art exhibition, and you've noticed people lined up for this performance. You see someone, a participant, blindfolded, with headphones and with her hand emerged in a container filled with beans. Her face is emotionless.

You decide to take part in this performance. But before, you need to sign a contract, with a Venetian pen and red ink. The contract says you cannot speak with others about the contents of this performance, during the rest of the event. You finally get to experience it. The performer blindfolds you, and places headphones on your ears. Your hand immerges into the hard, cold beans, and you start hearing something...

Project Type

University Project

Total Time

2 months

My role

Experience Design, Building the prototype

The Little Joys in Life

Our inspiration comes from a scene in the French movie If you haven't already, you really need to watch Amélie. Click here for the IMDB page Amélie about the little joys of life. Thus, hard beans, with their sensual textural qualities, are central in our design. The Erotic Beans experience is an example of how technology can be sensual without being intrusive. The focus is on the texture and aesthetics of materials and the pleasure of interaction.

Short excerpt from Amélie (32 sec)

The performance took place in Where I studied a Master's degree with a focus on Situated Interaction. Click here to go to the university's website Paris Saclay University and consisted of a ritual that was performed for every participant. The performer, the guardian of the installation, is the rite initiator. The installation was located in a small candle-lit room.

candle-lit room

When agreeing to take part in the performance, participants signed a handwritten contract agreeing to be blindfolded and recorded, and not reveal any details about the installation to other participants during the rest of the exhibition. This last detail was essential in creating suspense and curiosity around the installation.

signing the contract

The movement of the participant's hand through the beans triggers different The sounds were excerpts of intimate scenes from pop culture (Brokeback Mountain, Nymphomaniac). We also used breathing and heartbeat sounds. sensual sounds . What the participant hears becomes a shared secret of the audience who has experienced the performance, but also an individual one. When the participant feels that she or he wants to stop, the performer releases them, by taking away the headphones and unfolding the scarf.

Hardware Hacking

To create the interactive experience, we used an Arduino One microprocessor and six Read more about piezos here. piezoelectric transducers to monitor the movements. Piezoelectric sensors can detect vibrations caused by the moving of the beans. In total we used 6 sensors and a combination of 16 different sounds. By increasing the intensity of movement, participants could discover new sounds.

Sketch of the installation. The Arudino was connected to a laptop placed beneath the recipient.


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