Prosthetic Limbs, Digital Avatars and Bodily Extensions
- Henry Moore Institute
- Wednesday, 17 May 2017
- Lecture by Sita Popat in the Institute's seminar room, starting at 6pm
Drawing upon the arts, computer games, and lived experiences, Professor Sita Popat (University of Leeds) discusses prosthetic limbs and digital avatars as forms of bodily extension.
Prosthetic limbs and avatars can both be defined as forms of bodily extension – one mechanical, the other digital. Both are used widely in everyday life, yet their impact upon the lived experiences of their users tends to be approached with different emphases. Medical narratives on prosthetic limbs tend to focus on functionality, loss, replacement and disability. In contrast, avatar design and usage in the arts and computer games will often engage with identity, embodiment, and playfulness.
Sita will explore how processes of bodily extension are shared between avatars and prosthetic limbs, with concepts of embodiment forming the bridge between them. Her talk will include examples from the arts, computer games, and the personal stories of assembled and disassembled bodies.
Sita Popat trained as a dancer before studying for her PhD in dance-making on the Internet in the late 1990s. Since then she has lectured at the University of Leeds, becoming Chair in Performance and Technology in 2011. Her interests in movement, embodied experience and new media technologies have led to collaborations with digital artists, computer scientists, robotics engineers, and rehabilitation medics. Currently she is leading an investigation into digital avatars and medical prosthetics as forms of bodily extension (funded by the Wellcome Trust), and an interdisciplinary network on the productivity of error (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council). Previous projects include using dance analysis in the design of robotic motion. Publications include Digital Movement: Essays in Motion Technology and Performance (with Nicolas Salazar Sutil, Palgrave 2015) and Invisible Connections: Dance, Choreography and Internet Communities (Routledge 2006, 2013). She is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media.