We introduce the polytope of pointed pseudo-triangulations of a point set in the plane, defined as the polytope of infinitesimal expansive motions of the points subject to certain constraints on the increase of their distances. Its 1-skeleton is the graph whose vertices are the pointed pseudo-triangulations of the point set and whose edges are flips of interior pseudo-triangulation edges.
For points in convex position we obtain a new realization of the associahedron, i.e., a geometric representation of the set of triangulations of an n-gon, or of the set of binary trees on n vertices, or of many other combinatorial objects that are counted by the Catalan numbers. By considering the 1-dimensional version of the polytope of constrained expansive motions we obtain a second distinct realization of the associahedron as a perturbation of the positive cell in a Coxeter arrangement.
Our methods produce as a by-product a new proof that every simple polygon or polygonal arc in the plane has expansive motions, a key step in the proofs of the Carpenter's Rule Theorem by Connelly, Demaine and Rote (2000) and by Streinu (2000).