Sinews of Ubiquity: A Corporeal Ethics for Ubiquitous Computing

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Kozel, Susan. (2012). Sinews of ubiquity: A corporeal ethics for ubiquitous computing. In Ekman, U. (ed.) Throughout: Art and culture emerging with ubiquitous computing. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 337-351.

EXCERPT – This reflection on ubiquitous computing is written from the perspectives of performance and phenomenology – in particular, the dance and choreographic practices that shape the creation of responsive systems from large public art installations to intimate devices worn under clothes and on skin. The kinesthetic awareness of dance combines with the corporeal methodology of phenomenology, and both play a role in crafting an ethics, but this reflection on ubiquitous computing is also knitted with an understanding of how we exist within and move through the world. As such, the infrastructure of ubiquity is also considered: not the circuits, local-area networks, and software, but the corporeal and philosophical sinews of ubiquity that have meaning on ontological, aesthetic, and methodological levels. Calling the ethical approach offered in this chapter “corporeal” means more than simply considering how ubiquitous systems impact bodies; the aim is to re-embody the very understanding of ubiquitous computing in our lives as if it were, in Hélène Cixous words, “the blood flow in the veins between the bodies” connecting a life with another, one community to the other” (1998, 3).

ABOUT THE BOOK – Ubiquitous computing and our cultural life promise to become completely interwoven: technical currents feed into our screen culture of digital television, video, home computers, movies, and high-resolution advertising displays. Technology has become at once larger and smaller, mobile and ambient. In Throughout: Art and culture emerging with ubiquitous computing, leading writers on new media — including Jay David Bolter, Mark Hansen, N. Katherine Hayles, and Lev Manovich — take on the crucial challenges that ubiquitous and pervasive computing pose for cultural theory and criticism. The thirty-four contributing researchers consider the visual sense and sensations of living with a ubicomp culture; electronic sounds from the uncanny to the unremarkable; the effects of ubicomp on communication, including mobility, transmateriality, and infinite availability; general trends and concrete specificities of interaction designs; the affectivity in ubicomp experiences, including performances; context awareness; and claims on the “real” in the use of such terms as “augmented reality” and “mixed reality”.

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