RESEARCHExtreme performance discovery

RMIT Sarah Jane Pell 1 RMIT Sarah Jane Pell 2 RMIT Sarah Jane Pell 3 Pell Gorak Shep 2015 RMIT Sarah Jane Pell 5 RMIT Sarah Jane Pell 4

Dr. Sarah Jane Pell demonstrating Qualisys Motion Capture Systems and NeXus-10 MKII advanced system for biofeedback applications, neurofeedback applications, and physiological research at "high altitude" and screening Bending Horizons (first cut). Special thanks Aaron Belbasis, SportzEdge PhD Design Engineer. Photos Tabias Titk. RMIT Design Hub, Centre for Games Design Research Launch, 4 Aug 2015.

Research Interests

Dr. Sarah Jane Pell seeks to frame an awareness of the connections between bodily and sensory experience from sea, to summit, to space. With many years commercial diving experience behind her, she set out create artwork at various altitudes during the ascent of Mt. Everest as the next step in the journey. Pell began to map the range of challenging limitations and extraordinary capabilities of the body, mind, technology and environment, when trekking, climbing and making art in this beautiful part of the Himalayas. Using a research through performance approach, she also recorded her journey in 4K HD for a hybrid 360-degree interactive documentary and further research upon her return. It is hoped that these accounts and artefacts provide a significant opportunity for new understanding of human performance, behaviour, and limits during the moments of exertion, exposure and excitement. Pell's research will therefore contribute the first substantial investigation into performance exploration supporting translations between extreme material agency and spatial territories, establishing the field of ‘extreme performance’.

Communicating Human Exploration

While trekking, climbing and performing artistic works throughout the 2015 Bending Horizons Expedition, Pell carried a Nexus Biomind system to record 02 levels, heart rate, EEG and respiration rate. The ideas was to see if each period of reflection and expression has any impact on her overall performance and wellbeing. She also began an autoethnographic account: evaluating HCI and digitial media technology while trekking at high altitude. While the devastating Gorkha earthquakes of 25th April 2015 was an unplanned extreme situation that tested her ability to perform on all levels, so too the state of emergency increased the priority and validity of her interest in sending signs of life back to a remote audience. Upon her return, Dr. Pell examined recorded data and personal accounts of her experience. She wrote her story and began to edit her film as a way of proceessing everything that happened; reflecting on poetic moments, analysing the lessons-learned and understanding how she could improve.

Human Performance and Technology

In Nov 2015, Dr. Pell visited her alma mater Victoria University (VU), College of Sport & Exercise Science, to tour the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL). The $68 million high-technology research facility includes: Exercise physiology labs which study human exercise performance and fundamental human physiology in sport, exercise, and health. The Altitude Hotel which simulates a high altitude living environment by increasing the level of nitrogen in the air. This lowers the oxygen levels from the normal 20.9% typically down to 15.5%, simulating an altitude of up to 3500 metres and can be extended to higher altitudes. Additional Biomechanics laboratories perform technique analysis and understand the mechanical factors that affect human movement; Motor Learning and Skilled Performance Laboratories study and analyse the acquisition, performance, and perceptual-cognitive aspects of movement and related skills; Sport and Exercise Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Laboratory analyse cells and tissues to understand the key processes controlling or modulating muscle and cellular function; and Motor Control & Biofeedback Laboratories analyse neural control of muscle contraction and biofeedback.

Belbaris, Edwards, Pell, McKenna, ISEAL ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 ISEAL VU 2015 VU Altitude Hotel Nepal Room
Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) research facilities at Victoria University (VU), College of Sport & Exercise Science. L-R Aaron Belbaris, RMIT. Leigh Edwards, VU Alumni Assoc. Dr. Sarah Jane Pell, Bending Horizons. Prof. Michael McKenna, ISEAL. 2 Nov 2015.

Research Publications

Mueller, F. & Pell, S.J. (in-review 2016). Technology and Adventure: Learning from a Technology Expedition in Nepal "HCI is increasingly interested in supporting people’s physically active lifestyle. Adventure is part of this lifestyle, and to contribute an HCI perspective on adventure, we present an analysis of an autoethnographical study of an expedition via Nepal to Mt. Everest. During this expedition, on the 25th and 26th April 2015, two devastating earthquakes struck the region. In this paper, the authors reflect on the themes arising from the adventure from a HCI perspective to articulate two dimensions (instrumental-experiential and expected-unexpected) to identify four roles that technology might play during adventure: as coach, rescuer, documentarian and mentor. We hope our work provides HCI designers with a lens to investigate adventure, and more generally, contributes to our knowledge of supporting people’s physically active lifestyle."

Creative Publications

The ongoing investigations of Bending Horizons will be a rich record of ‘human expression’ during the extreme performance in alpine exploration See Art. By creating site-specific artistic responses on route to the Everest summit, logging data and recording the explorers-view of the expedition with a 360degree HD camera, Pell makes the following unique contributions:

  • Novel systems for communication and media during human exploration
  • Insights into the human experience of extreme performance at altitude
  • Post-production hybrid interactive documentary, exhibition and eBook.
  • Outcomes will frame an understanding of our abilities to firstly express, and then communicate, exploration phenomena. They will also contribute new insights that could be further documented and analysed including the potentials for communication and connection with a remote audience across analogue environments.