Search results for "embodiment "

Media & The Body

Author: joe

Thursday, 16 December, 2010 - 22:36

This week I finished teaching a new unit - Media & The Body. As is often the case when I teach a new unit for the first time, there's some openness and uncertainty about where exactly it will go. I've just written up the essay questions - taking topics which the students themselves suggested they'd like to write about and agreed in the final session, and I've firmed them up into nice academic-sounding words. As I did so, I noticed just how much material we managed to cover and the breadth of ideas the participants brought to each session. The questions tell the story really. Thanks to all students for making it so stimulating!

In games, websites and other online spaces, complex psychological relationships evolve between computer users and their avatars. Discuss these relationships, and the way that the body features in their development.
Contemporary commercial developments in the creation of virtual realities, video-game worlds, and other digital environments are striving to push the limits of verisimilitude and naturalism. Discuss ways in which a consideration of embodiment can inform or explain these developments.
Futurists and other commentators on advances in human sciences speak of transhumanism - the human who is a hybrid of biology and technology. What are the consequences of self-directed evolution for humans and their bodies?
Humans augment their bodies in cybernetic ways. Discuss the nature of cyborg bodies and the practical and ethical challenges they present.
A body is both something that we have, as well as who we are. In what ways are our bodies integral to our identities?
The disembodied performances of identity that online media permit open up questions of authenticity and fantasy. Discuss the issues that are called into question by identity play.
In what ways are the spaces, architectures and environments we produce and inhabit extensions of the body?
By casting humans into a universe of alternative and alien species, science fiction offers a imaginative space for us to meditate the limits and possibilities of our bodies and minds. Discuss.
Contemporary consumer electronics, alongside locative social tools, are fostering a hybrid or augmented experience of public spaces. Examine the nature and significance of these phenomena.
The human, their body, their mind and their technology are fundamentally entwined, and as humans evolve, so do the relationships between each of these aspects. What do past examples of technological, cognitive and embodied change tell us about future possibilities?
The body is a canvas on which meanings can be inscribed - from self harm, through tattoos, to body paint, make-up and adornment. Consider the body as a medium for coping and self-expression.

Categories: media, body, embodiment, learning,
Comments: 3


Author: joe

Tuesday, 16 November, 2010 - 22:52

- on infiltration

My point of view is for me not so much a limitation of my experience as a way I have of infiltrating into the world in its entirety . . . But how is it possible for me to experience the world as a positively existing individual, since none of the perspective views of it which I enjoy exhausts it, since its horizons are always open, and since moreover no knowledge, even scientific knowledge, provides us with the invariable formula of a facies totius universi?
Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty

I am a secret agent, I carry out espionage; I see partially and report back from a labyrinth of mirrors; I dissimulate and double, decoy and delude; I am disguised as I walk among the unknowing objects of my surveillance; I blend in in order to see better; I see only what is not visible, and so deal in fiction.

I am an intruder, I do not belong; I trespass and infringe, perpetrate and interfere; I alter the course, inhibit and encourage, affect and disturb; I change history, divert destinies, I influence the outcome; I violate, obstruct and pervert.

I am an infiltrator; I pass through the walls; an impurity, unstrained from the solution, absorbed by osmosis, diffuse in the world; I repel the substrate, not condensing, precipitating, solidifying, crystallising; but dissolving, melting, subliming, evaporating.

Categories: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, infiltration, espionage, embodiment, immanence,
Comments: 0

stethoscope - fragment

Author: joe

Monday, 06 July, 2009 - 23:44

In discussion with Fran - we were going through a box of old and antiquated medical instruments he'd collected, objects of curiosity, memory and history - we noted how the stethoscope serves not only to provide a 'virtual world' as Jonathan Sterne puts it (an acoustical representation), but acts as a sort of 'distantiation device' - a prop which helps the doctor to adopt a role and enter into the performance in which the human body is objectified.

Placing a mediating device between two human beings facilitates the creation of a subject who manipulates an object. We parcel off the problem-of-the-body into an objectified, if not objective, realm which we believe is transcended by the physical theatre of the stethoscope itself, and the disembodied, privileged knowledge of the physician. We defer our formal discomfort by effacing our embodied being.

I imagine a time-lapse evolution depicting the history of the stethoscope: play it in reverse and the long looping cord shortens and hardens into a trumpet; the forceps-like earpieces exit the ear, fuse and widen into the mouth of a horn; the bell and diaphragm device contrived for human contact simplifies into a chest piece with a hole. Then, finally, the whole instrument disappears and the physicians ear falls onto the patient's chest in a tight human embrace.

Categories: stethoscope, technology, distantiation, present-at-hand, Martin Heidegger, Jonathan Sterne, embodiment, performance,
Comments: 1

Bogeys - or bodily betrayal

Author: joe

Thursday, 31 July, 2008 - 21:13

Featherstone and Hepworth note how a loss of bodily control can be associated with a loss of social acceptibility - they describe this as 'bodily betrayal'. On ageing, they say:

"Degrees of loss impair the capacity to be counted as a competent adult. Indeed the failure of bodily controls can point to a more general loss of self image; to be ascribed the status of a competent adult person depends upon the capacity to control urine and faeces."
[Featherstone & Hepworth, 'The mask of ageing and the postmodern lifecourse' in Featherstone, Hepworth & Turner, 1991. The Body: social processes and cultural theory, London: Sage, cited in Nettleton & Watson (eds.), 1998. 'An Introduction' in The Body in Everyday Life, London: Routledge, p1-20 (and by the way, isn't that gobful a nice exemplar of the constructedness of knowledge?)]
I wonder if their analysis extends to what Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors tend to call 'muck'? Last year as my sinusitis entered its, oh, 3rd or 4th month, my doctor asked if my mucus was discoloured. I said I wasn't sure. Is a green bogey normal or discoloured? Here's something worth meditating on: your snot.

Do you notice when your snot is clear? Before my doctor asked this question, I had never considered that snot was any colour than green. I mean, snot is normally green isn't it? Aren't bogeys green? Actually, snot is only green when you have some kind of infection (it is a sign of bacterial colonies growing in your nose. Nice). But the rest of the time (like if you have hay fever) your snot is clear. And because it is clear, you don't notice. And by 'you don't notice it' I mean 'I don't notice it'. The clear stuff that came out of my nose when I had a bit of hay fever or early stages of a cold, wasn't 'snot', or mucus. It was invisible, irrelevant. How had I managed to think of snot as only green? What did I think the clear stuff was? I don't even remember. I wasn't even in control of my body to start with.

So when my doctor asked if my 'mucus' was 'discoloured', I thought, 'What - other than green? You mean, terracotta? Puce? Fuscia? Magnolia? Purple? Shit-brown? Or just normal, everyday green?"

I think I'm going to lump this with the rest of my parents' failings, alongside neglecting to tell me about smegma and ejaculation. I don't need to tell you how freaked I was in the bath THAT day.

Categories: body, snot, mucus, betrayal, embodiment, health, self, identity, competence, urine, faeces,
Comments: 0