Bend the Knee

An interactive system between a left knee and a shoe lace.


When bending the knee you untie the shoe.
When stretching the knee, you loosen the shoe lace.
When finding a neutral angle range for the knee, the shoe lace stays still.


While treating the body as an architectural structure, this project reflects on Robert Venturi’s quote:


‘The difficult whole in an architecture of complexity and contradiction includes multiplicity and diversity of elements in relationships that are inconsistent or among the weaker kinds perceptually. […] Parts can be more or less whole in themselves, or, to put it in another way, in greater or lesser degree they can be fragments of a greater whole.’


Relying on the idea of creating such inconsistent relationships within the complexity of a moving body, ‘Bend the Knee’ attempts to expand body’s movement towards a disorientated, unexpected and distractive direction.


After exploring the bouncing behaviour of the knee and its possible contrasting interactions with neighbouring parts of the leg (the trousers, the socks, the laces, the shoes), there was shaped the idea of lifting something up when bending the knee, as a conflict of levels.


After all,’Bend the knee’ is a prototype that consists of an athletic knee pad within which are attached a long flex sensor, a servo motor of continuous rotation, a Flora electronic platform and a LiPo battery pack 2000mAh. When bending the knee, the servo/pulley rotates forwards, pulling the shoe lace until untying the shoe. When stretching the knee, the servo/pulley rotates backwards, loosening the shoe lace and allowing you to tie manually the shoe. In between a small range of flex values, the servo stays still.


The participants of this system are knees of disorientated bodies which perform a distracting detail while using a flex sensor as the means of sensing the left knee’s tension, oscillating between flexion and extension.