New publication: “How still is still? exploring human standstill for artistic applications”

sverm-dumpI am happy to announce a new publication titled How still is still? exploring human standstill for artistic applications (PDF of preprint), published in the International Journal of Arts and Technology. The paper is based on the Sverm project, and was written and accepted two years ago. Sometimes academic publishing takes absurdly long, which this is an example of, but I am happy that the publication is finally out in the wild.


We present the results of a series of observation studies of ourselves standing still on the floor for 10 minutes at a time. The aim has been to understand more about our own standstill, and to develop a heightened sensitivity for micromovements and how they can be used in music and dance performance. The quantity of motion, calculated from motion capture data of a head marker, reveals remarkably similar results for each person, and also between persons. The best results were obtained with the feet at the width of the shoulders, locked knees, and eyes open. No correlation was found between different types of mental strategies employed and the quantity of motion of the head marker, but we still believe that different mental strategies have an important subjective and communicative impact. The findings will be used in the development of a stage performance focused on micromovements.


Jensenius, A. R., Bjerkestrand, K. A. V., and Johnson, V. (2014). How still is still? exploring human standstill for artistic applications. International Journal of Arts and Technology, 7(2/3):207–222.


    Author = {Jensenius, Alexander Refsum and Bjerkestrand, Kari Anne Vadstensvik and Johnson, Victoria},
    Journal = {International Journal of Arts and Technology},
    Number = {2/3},
    Pages = {207--222},
    Title = {How Still is still? Exploring Human Standstill for Artistic Applications},
    Volume = {7},
    Year = {2014}}

Sverm video #1

For the last couple of years I have been involved in an artistic research project called Sverm, in which we investigate the artistic potential of bodily micromovements and microsound. We are currently working towards a series of intimate lab performances in the end of November.

As a side-project to the performances, we are also working with video artist Lavasir Nordrum, on the making of four short videos documenting the four main parts of the project: micromovement, microsound, excitation, resonance.

The first of the videos are now ready, focusing on the topic of micromovement, and featuring Kari Anne Vadstensvik Bjerkestrand, Victoria Johnson and myself.

Transformation on YouTube

Victoria Johnson has posted a video of the performance of our piece Transformation on Youtube:

The video is from Victoria’s final performance as part of her research fellowship in the arts (PhD-equivalent), which happened Monday 28 March 2011 at the Norwegian Academy of Music.

As I wrote earlier this year:

Transformation a piece where we are using video analysis to control sound selection and spatialisation. We have been developing the setup and piece during the last couple of years, and performed variations of the piece at MIC, the Opera house and at the music academy last year.

Micromovement or millimovement

I have been delving into the world of what I have called micromovement recently. At first I did not think much about the word “micromovement” itself, assuming that this was a well-used word for small movements. But since several people have asked me about what I actually mean when talking about micromovements, I have had to think about the meaning of the word itself.

There are two reasons why I think people get confused with the word micromovement: a) the meaning of the prefix “micro”, b) what the “micro” refers to.

If we start with the prefix micro, it comes from the Greek ?????? (mikrós), meaning “small”. So with that definition it should be safe to use micromovement when referring to small movements.

However, I guess some people get confused since micro is often also use quantitatively, e.g. micrometer or microsecond. While the movements I am interesting in are most certainly also at a micrometer/microsecond level, I only have access to measurement systems with millimeter/millisecond resolution. Will it then make more sense to take about millimovement, i.e. movements at the millimetre/millisecond scale?

A quick google search reveals only 210 hits for millimovement, none of which seem to be related to body movement at all. A search for micromovement, on the other hand, gives 104 000 hits, and there are even 5100 hits on google scholar. So for movement it clearly seems that micromovement is an established term in the research literature, at least in medicine and biology.

In technology research, on the other hand, it seems like “micro” is more often used in relation to size. This can easily be seen with the shift from microtechnology to nanotechnology. But then there should also have been periods of  millitechnology or desitechnology, something which does not seem to be the case.

All in all, I think that it should be fine to use micromovement when talking about very small movement, even though it may “only” be at a millimetre/millisecond scale. I would be happy to get examples of other uses, though, and suggestions for alternatives.