Dr. Marcio Rocha

Transtechnology Research,
Room B312 Portland Square,
University of Plymouth,
Drake Circus,
PL4 8AA.

e-mail: marcio.alvesdarocha<@>plymouth.ac.uk
e-mail: marciorochadesigner<@>gmail.com
skype: marciorochadesigner

Related websites:


Short Biography

Marcio Rocha is a PhD candidate with Transtechnology Research funded by CAPES/Brazilian government and Lecturer at the Faculty of Design and Arts of Federal University of Goiás (Brazil), investigating ways to improve Human Computer Interaction and Interaction Design using transdisciplinary methods.

His research examines the potential implications in people’s lives in order to produce more natural interactions between humans and computers, including the mutual influence between humans and computers, specially concerned with mental aspects, using as a framework cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind in his investigation.

Marcio is graduated in Visual Arts/Graphic Design (2004) and a Master in Cultural Heritage Management (2006). With an understanding and experience in graphic design related industries, having more than 13 years of design practice, producing more than 500 design projects within multidisciplinary teams, developing visual identities and branding projects, editorial projects for books, magazines and print. Subsequently, he has also developed projects for electronic media, computer interfaces and websites for companies and international advertising agencies like JWT and F/NASCA, working on projects for companies like Nike and Levi’s jeans, among others.

In 2006 he began teaching Graphic Design at the Federal University of Goias – Brazil, specifically in the disciplines of Visual Identity, Graphic Production and Interactive Media. As a teacher, he has directed final degree projects with graduate students that have included themes such as: Branding and visual identity, games, advergames, websites, HCI and usability user-centred design, mobile applications, augmented reality, mixed reality, and design and emotion.

His last works include a low-budget experimental interactive table, which has been used to research cognitive aspects of interaction and aims to make technology more inclusive, accessible and available to multi-users.


Research statement

New routes to Human Computer Interaction
Reconciliating the Artificial with the Human nature.


Using early mechanical machines and automatons as a model -, both in mythology and science – this research aims to reconciliate the artificial with the human nature, using transdiciplinary methods to reduce the friction between humans and future technologies. ‘Artificial’ and ‘natural’ intelligence is confronted, notion of models of mind and intelligence during the history is questioned and materiality of  artefacts is evidenced to make it congruent with the embodied mind paradigm.

This research aims to tackle the problem and limitations imposed by cognitive psychology and computer sciences as mainly disciplines to improve Human relationship with future technologies or more specifically, to improve Human Computer Interaction. During this research, preliminary studies and literature review have shown that the model of the mind proposed as a model to anticipate how humans interact with computers is unsatisfactory, limited and very problematic. All this limitations, transformed Human Computer Interaction in a discipline of incremental improvements based on trials and errors, which have affected programmers, designers and users in many ways.

Human Computer Interaction in a way, is all about anticipate problems in order to create solutions and constraints to avoid the human error based in a ‘model of human mind’.  The obsolete idea that the human is a metaphor of computer, the computational approach to understand human mind and  the idea that our mind work as an ‘information processor’ is not longer a consensus in HCI. The embodied mind concept brings new elements for the understanding of how the mind works and as a consequence, gives us new insights about how we can improve our interactions with machines and computers, putting together mind, bodies and the world as an unique entity.

Using early old automata, robots, artificial and mechanical machines, both in mythology and science in this research, aims to create another perspective that will be discussed. Early Mechanical machines, automatons and the mechanisation of thinking for instance, explore the concept that technology is a practice and an imaginative idea, and not only a concrete manifestation of a solution for human problems, which challenged the idea that technology is only create by contingencies but is also an human aspiration to materialise and achieve it.

This discussion in the context of the early automatons and media archeology investigation, suggests that the concept of mind is volatile entity which changes during the years. Also reconceptualise intelligence and cognition as a distributed, situated and a volatile concept that changes during the time and context and can be manifested in several manners.

This research aims to explore disciplines as philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, cognitive sciences and sciences of artificial, maybe to not be conclusive, but  also, to raise new questions and bring to debate the problem of the human mind and our relationship with machines in a transdisciplinary investigation to discovery more about human, minds, computers and machines.


Recent Seminar Presentations

Hope and Reality in Artificial Intelligence
12th, December/2012 – Transtechnology Research Seminar


Based on an Anthology of HAL-9000, the computer in the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Rocha will trace the various phases of AI in order to stimulate some reflections through a critical and philosophical view to inform  the design of intelligent machines, addressing some major issues in the field of artificial intelligence.

It will open up a discussion of the interrelationship between developing understandings of HCI and Artificial Intelligence. It will invite basic question about the location and conceptualisation of intelligence and stimulate the consideration of intelligence as an absolute quality that is subject to historical change. The seminar will draw these questions into  some basic debates that inform technological approaches to the intimate involvement of humans with machines.

Boden, M.A (1990) The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Clancey, W. J. (1997). Situated cognition: On human knowledge and computer representations. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Clarke, Arthur, 2001: A Space Odyssey, London: Hutchinson/Star, 1968.
Dreyfus,H.L (1972) What Computers Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. New York: Harper and Row.
Dreyfus,H.L. & Dreyfus,E.S (1982) Mind over Machine. London: Free Press.
Dreyfus,H.L (1992) What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Haugeland, J. (1985). Artificial intelligence: The very idea. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Stork. D. G. (1997) HAL’s Legacy: 2001’s computer as dream and reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Pfeifer, R. & Bongard, J. C. (2007), How the body shapes the way we think: a new view of intelligence, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Pfeifer, R. & Scheier, C. (1999), Understanding Intelligence, MIT Press.
Warwick, K. (2012) Artificial intelligence – The Basics. Routledge.


Metaphor as translation (or ‘the cherry on the cake for human cognition’)
18th, January /2012 – Transtechnology Research Seminar

Metaphor, literally know as a figure of speech, uses images, stories or tangible things to represent less tangible things or some intangible quality or idea and can be traced back to the time of Aristotle. Metaphor has been seen within the Western scientific tradition as a purely linguistic construction and more than an ornamental resource of language for film, music and poetry, cognitive linguists, thereby highlighting the centrality of Metaphor to human thought and cognition, have revisited the notion of Metaphor.

Lakoff’s conceptual metaphor was expressed in his book with Mark Johnson entitled Metaphors We Live By 1980 and suggested that to define our representational system and understand the natural world, ‘our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of how we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature’ (p. 3). The essential thrust of Lakoff’s work has been the argument that metaphors are primarily a conceptual construction, and indeed are central to the development of human thought.

Metaphor is frequently used in the design of graphical (user) interfaces as well as in the field of graphic design. The idea that metaphors can ‘translate’ realities goes against some of the more traditional views of Metaphor, and maybe it is reasonable enough to assume that words alone cannot really translate or change reality. However, changes in our conceptual system can operate changes in what is real for an individual and affect how the world is perceived acting upon perceptions.

More than a literal translation, decoding or interpretation of abstract concepts, this seminar will present that this notion suggests that Metaphor is not merely stylistic, but cognitively important as well, structuring our conceptual system and the kinds of everyday activities we perform. This statement suggests somehow that language (and Metaphor) is embodied, embedded and external, and that the mind is not only contained in the head. The causally active physical vehicles of content and of cognitive processes could be spread across the biological organism and the world.

Other aspects of Metaphor, such as translation, will be used to illustrate and elucidate some aspects of the concept, navigating for other seas, some of which are related to the nature of the ongoing research, such as computational aspects, models, interfaces and visual metaphors.

Is Metaphor the ‘cherry on the cake’ of language and human cognition? We will see?


Andy Clark (1998).  ‘Where Brain, Body and World Collide’ – Daedalus : Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Special Issue on The Brain) Vol 127: no 2: Spring 1998 (p. 257-280).
Lakoff, G.,  Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by –  London: The University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, G.,  Johnson, M (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books.
Memento, (2000). Film. Directed by Christopher Nolan. USA: Republic Pictures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vS0E9bBSL0
Zhou Bowen, (2004). Can We Have Thought without Metaphor?


Recent Events attended


Reclamekermis – Advertising the sublime
Friday 19 April 2013, Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision, Hilversum
Saturday 20 April 2013, EYE, Amsterdam – Netherlands


  • Ars Electronica Festival – Origin – How It All Begins – Linz – Austria (01.09/06.09)
  • CyberArts – Prix Ars Eletronica 2011 – PrixArs – Linz, Austria  (01.09/06.09)
  • Campus Exhibition ? University of Tsukuba (JP) – Seriously Playful / Playfull Serious –  (01.09/06.09)
  • Interface Cultures – Unuselessness – The Useful useless –  (01.09/06.09)
  • Symmetries – A presentation of the work being done at CERN, the second exhibition having to do with this year’s festival theme. A heterogeneous array of experimental assemblies, images and exhibits invites visitors to confront highly diverse manifestations of the human spirit of inquiry and the joy of discovery.
  • Robotinity – The New Robolab / What machines dream of
  • Sensing Place / Placing Sense – Symposium – Symposium und Ausstellung Im Rahmen des Ars Electronica Festivals 2011.
International Network for Trans-disciplinary (post doctoral)
Research (INTR) Conference in Budapest 2011 (18/02/11 to 19/02/11).

International Workshop at Art & Science: synergy of technology and art in the city spaces.
Erasmus Intensive Programme 2011. Gdansk, Poland (9- 22 October 2011).
Teaching experience with Erasmus students of Architecture

Papers and posters

Marcio Rocha’s papers and publications