Theme 3: Digital-physical crossings

Theme 3: Digital-physical crossings

Physical-digital Trajectories refers to whether and how, the researchers worked across physical, digital or virtual domains in relation to embodiment. How Physical-digital Trajectories featured in each site was related to the conception of the digital/body, the research practice and time scales of the case study site. Digital Arts research practitioners (makers) spoke of their need for a physical output/object to think through design and to communicate with. These trajectories were not a feature in all the case studies, notably where the digital and body are embedded in real time interaction – with a process of amalgamation.

Physical-digital Trajectories can contribute a number of potential benefits to embodiment research:

  1. Innovates ideas of the body by re-imagining it via the different perspectives and material possibilities that the physical and the digital afford;
  2. Creates a context of digital serendipity in which the digital ‘generates ideas’ to support the process of creative thinking and making;
  3. Contributes to research processes: when a problem was raised in the design process, the participant returned to the physical;
  4. Opens up the tensions between the digital and the physical as a productive space for exploring the body.

An amalgamated approach to the physical-digital also has potential benefits:

  1. Provides a holistic context in which to consider the body;
  2. Rejects binary oppositions between the body-digital that can open up new imaginations and languages of the body beyond the physical.

Both also present limitations for researching the digital-body: physical-digital trajectories may carve up research process and bodily experiences in ways that are distorting, and give too much agency to the digital; an amalgamated approach may reject boundaries and differences that are significant for embodied experiences. Engaging Digital arts and Social sciences in the design of different kinds of physical-digital trajectories and/or the types of transitions across them, could be helpful in creating new contexts of digital serendipity, in which the digital is purposively disrupted to generates new ideas could support the process of creative thinking and making in relation to embodied interaction