The body in the space

Watching people tentatively walk through the augmented space with their AR goggles on, I can see a body-awareness that cripples the instinctual movements of the body. The assumption seems to be that these people lack technical familiarity, but what they are actually experiencing is not technological but physical, a shame and self-consciousness of the body that limits movement. I think of typing my phone number or email into a stranger’s phone, how my movements become exaggerated and clumsy, even though I am completely familiar with a touchscreen. It is the attention that disrupts me, the focus on my movements by myself and another. These VR and AR newbies are in a public space, and highly conscious of the eyes watching them. But they are also aware of their own monitoring of their body. Suddenly, the device asks them to concentrate in new ways on their hands, head, arms, legs. They are childlike in their understanding and must become present. Becoming present involves the familiarisation of actions and objects to the point of indifference, acceptance through automation. If we are going to help people into an AR or VR world, they will need to move through this process of defamiliarisation of the body and its actions.

 

And what will this new learning do for the body?

What happens if we decide to place someone with one leg into a virtual body with two? What have we done here?

When I go into the virtual world, will I take my penis with me?

The use of VR to help autistic children. Are we customising the world for individuals? Are we removing them from our world?

I can always bring you into the world by appealing to your reactive base nature; “Catch!”

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