Ubiquitous Bodies: A “Metrobodily” Transition From Real to Virtual

Ubiquitous Bodies: A “Metrobodily” Transition From Real to Virtual

Giorgio Cipolletta (Università di Macerata, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7168-1.ch001


While the digital era has provided us with an incredible amount of accessibility, availability, and speedy tools, it has also made us lose that sense of critical awareness that was once considered a rare and precious gift. The marking feature of the present is ubiquity, as in the loss of spatial and temporal coordinates and the gain of a presence-absence that new technologies allow us to live – both positively and negatively. The body is the core of this electronic, virtual, and increased involvement. In this phase we're living in, the author suggests we introduce the neologism “metrobody” to identify this new hybrid condition undertaken by the body. This expression allows the author to reconfigure and hypothesize a different level and a different meaning of corporeality.
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Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things;

I caught in the fabric of the world,

and its cohesion is that of a thing.

But, because it moves itself and sees,

it holds things in a circle around itself.

Merleau-Ponty (2003)

The anthropological change that the digital era has brought about opens a gap between existing images and the reality they should be a reflex of, a gap between what we believe they are and what they really are. This paradoxical experience in the digital age can be extended at a global level. While our nervous system is allowed to ingest a vast quantity of information and intangible data, our own Self increases the condition of solitude. We are predominantly alone in front of the screen when we are connected; but at the same time, we also take part into the greatest social sharing. The relationship with the machine carries with it the risk of altering our nervous system by causing sensory amputations. Anyways, it is no longer possible to grow apart from our technological system because we need it since our bodies now blend naturally with the artificial and electronic environment. Instead, our interiority is in danger of easily swapping with the exterior of the screen: rather than ‘the medium is the message’, perhaps today it is the body itself that tends to become message, as in it becomes medium for accessing the world. In the virtual space lays the opportunity for every-body to become a no-body once and for all. But instead of aspiring to becoming no one, we shall consider Luigi Pirandello's formula “one, none, and a hundred thousand” as an opportunity to multiply ourselves in the “cross-narrative” circuit of the Net. Moving over Luigi Pirandello's disillusionment, we are actually heading towards Marinetti's multiplied man or McLuhan's global man. Therefore the theme of the body is again the central “core” because there’s a need to rethink it again, now considering its expanded potential. The body expands at the borders of the virtual dimension and loads itself with new meanings. The contemporary body represents a changing and transitory reality defined by the context and connected to virtual and simulated reality practices. In this panorama, the creative process requires to deal with multiple and contemporary levels of complexity and various timescales.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Reality (VR): It applies the progress in speed computing, graphics display, sensor sciences, and programming techniques in order to provoke in a participant an immersive experience inside a computer-generated space that we call a virtual world. Virtual worlds may or may not be analogous to our physical space; virtual environments may be realistic, extrasensory, telepresent or hybrid. The sensation of immersion is accomplished by peripheral devices wearable on the head such as visual and auditory displays with motion trackers.

Fourth VR (4VR): Ascott calls it a variable reality, which is the syncretic reality.

LPDT (La Plissure du Texte/The Pleating of the Text: A Planetary Fairytale): The title is an explicit reference to an essay by French critic Roland Barthes that was published ten years earlier with the title Le Plaisir du Texte (1973) AU45: The in-text citation "Texte (1973)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , a popular essay discussing, among many other things, on authorship and on the role of reader as a writer of the text. Ascott foresees multiple authors and readers.

Moistmedia: Another term coined by Roy Ascott. It represents where art is now: representing a multiplicity of media, configured and manipulated in an infinite number of ways by distributed authorship, publication, and distribution. Moist represents a convergence of silicon, dry computational systems and wet biological processes, tremendously extending the sensorium of the self.

Three Virtual Realities (3VRs): According to Roy Ascott, who considers the space and state of our consciousness, our mind pivots on the triangulation between three poles that he refers to as the Three VRs: Virtual Reality, Validated Reality, and Vegetal Reality.

Cyberception: This term was coined by Roy Ascott. It describes the convergence of perceptive and conceptual processes in which the connectivity of telematic networks plays a constructive role.

Ubiquitous Bodies: The condition of ubiquity is the central concept of everyday experiences, based on digital revolution, transforming the traditional compact identity in a ubiquitous subject.

Metrobody: It is a neologism for representing the idea of a new metrics of the body, conceived both as a mutant parameter and a transitive variable. It does not measure, it is not measure, but is measured in relation to the physical and digital environment at the same time, losing even the limits of reality.

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