Chapter 7 Across the Threshold: A Somaesthetic Approach to the Design of Extended Realities

In: Somaesthetics and Design Culture
Authors:
Tom McGuirk
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Alan Summers
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This text approaches the design of extended reality (XR) environments from of a somaesthetic standpoint. We currently witness the advent of a world transformed by augmented reality, with implications for how we dwell in it. XR technologies have the potential to transform our engagement with our environment. This text argues that recent developments in XR design can transcend the Cartesian logic of its origins and that an approach informed by somaesthetics has the potential to inform, and indeed transform, design theory and practice in this field. The text takes as a case study; In Darwin’s Garden (2014), a large-scale augmented reality artwork, in order to demonstrate how the design of a new tool can amplify an already familiar embodied action and encourage the participant to engage with and co-curate a different experience of the environment and thereby experience an altered, enactive landscape. The chapter focuses attention on somatic movement, particularly the sensorimotor action of reaching. It is argued that the use of a tool that facilitates reaching can produce an alteration in attitude from the detachment and stasis of the Albertian/Cartesian subject, to an entirely different more active engagement, reflecting a dynamic, 4E (embodied, embedded, extended and enactive) cognitive model.

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