How we interact with these digital-physical spatial encounters is where my research lies; using technological interventions including gaming, second life, screens and interfaces I look to expand on the affective qualities these environments hold. While also exploring the language we use to describe the space we inhabit when presented with our identities within the shared digital-physical space of convergence.
Digital-physical realities are part of our daily spatial experiences, interacting seamlessly to allow multiple streams of information to converge upon us. The Actual acts as a place of affected engagement within our surrounding environment, which can interact with the virtuality of our everyday life. Digital-physical experiences happen within these environments and are affected by our identity, corporeal body and virtual body allowing us to question the possibilities and outcomes of the world we inhabit.
A convergence of spatial environments
Digital-Physical, Actual, Virtual, Corporeal, Identity, Interface, Screen, Inhabitation
Bachelor Interior Design Honours RMIT
In the following essay I will provide research and ideas that question not only the use of the word ‘real’ but also whether this word has any place in our future vocabulary, where the intersection of the digital-physical will explore convergence as an environment, screen and interface.
Video Gaming is this medium where I can create, experience and interact with a multitude of affected environments. Gaming for me isn’t just an extension of my physical reality but a convergence of the digital-physical, where my experiences and interactions are of the screen and interface, controls and actions, a multitude of experiences that culminate in an environment of affected engagement. This environment allows us to enter into a world of convergence, one that uses interior theory, namely that of interiority and philosophical discussion, namely that of the Virtual and Actual to create an understanding of how we interact with the future of digital-physical space.
A digital-physical Introduction
I have always been confused when people tell me to come back into the real world, I keep thinking, what is real? How does this real they speak of have more credence than what I am experiencing? When approaching this accusation of being in the un-real or less affected world, I look for an answer within a spatial context, one that exists within the interiority of this expereince. This spatial context does not limit me to the confines of Architecture or the confines of the physical built environment, it does however lead me to an experience that helped to shape and question how we understand and interact with reality.
Tim in Wye is a live stream video interface that looks at placing a live image of the viewer within a recorded presentation, much like you would experience when using an application such as Skype for the purpose of visual communication. In this view of the viewer we start to experience the coalescence of the mirrored image, where the Virtual image is Actualised and then also re-virtualised, in a convergent loop. This is shown within the screen which is a means of communication but also a means of placing the viewer within the screen becoming a visual part of that communication. This Digitalised interaction is in continual exchange with the physicalised viewer which in turn explores the digital-physical.
How we interact physically and virtually with the world is largely dependent on the experiences we encounter, and the affects that occur periodically within these experiences. A critical point of these affects, lie within the digital interfaces that we occupy, where our interactions with a screen act as a manipulation of a digital environment (not to be seen as solely digital, but as digitalism). This screen lets us interact with our Digitalism where the Virtual Image is actualised and in turn re-virtualised in a constant loop, much like Deleuze describes with the use of a mirror and the image within that mirror. Comparably the two sided image, with both the actual and the virtual experienced simultaneously occurs within the screen of Digitalism which lets us inhabit the digital-physical.
I remember the first time I used a computer, it ran MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) and we used it to play games, namely Commander Keen, a side scrolling game of intergalactic heroism and laser gun shootouts. When I first interacted with this computer and the game, I didn’t realise at the time, but now understand I was having a digital experience; that day was the first true inhabitation of digital space I can remember experiencing. As computers, digital interfaces and operating systems began to grow technologically, I too grew with how I interacted with them. Gaming, of course, was still a large part but now there was opportunity to communicate with friends, make new friends, learn, find information, process data, the list is endless. This evolution demonstrates the vast change from those first Commander Keen games, as a digital spatial environment, to where our digital spatial understanding is now far more than a side scrolling game.
1. Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2: The Time Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Roberta Galeta. (Minneapolis: Athlone Press, 1989), 68.
Creating physical outcomes through modifying gaming visuals of the game, First Person Shooter, looks to position a video of corporeal people into a traditional arcade gaming console through the use of film editing techniques. With this modified example of the arcade game and what is experienced when playing this game, the question is posed: is physicality needed to create a truly physical outcome, or, is this game still a game? The thought and then outward emotion felt when viewing a scenario where the game shows images of corporeal people being shot by an arcade handgun creates a physical outcome, one that is instantly uncomfortable and possibly intriguing at the same time hence creating a physical outcome from a virtual input.
We live in a physical world, one where physical interactions are based on properties of matter, however these interactions are also influenced by perception and the Physicalism of how we experience the world and spatial scenarios around us. This experienced and very physical nature of the world is constantly changing, leading to an interactive tangible environment that is inhabited with our bodies and our minds. The mind and body is one physical organism separated only by description, one cannot work without the other, which leads me to the inhabitation of space and our perception of interaction. This inhabitation and perceptive interaction is seen within violent video games, where a perception of the target is somehow removed when graphically computer orientated.
Gaming for me is a hobby much like playing hockey or enjoying bike riding, there is time and place for all these activities, some more often than others. The physicality of these activities had different levels of intensity (sometimes having to move aggressively and sometimes have to think aggressively), both having the same outcome; win or lose, and both resulting in a physical outcome from a physical input. Much like a bicycle or a hockey stick, gaming controls are used to interact with the action that follows, hitting the ball or moving the character on a screen both have physical inputs and outcomes.
2.Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ‘Physicalism’, First published Tue Feb 13, 2001; substantive revision Mon Mar 9, 2015,
This interaction is shown directly in the project Gaming Tim where I take my identity and place it into a game, using the familiarity of my self and creating a new spatial environment to interact with. Creating a multitude of possibilities for my identity to grow and interact with the interface supplied, using the interface to report back to the corporeal actions of Left, Right, Jump, Left and the visual cues displayed on the screen. This input and active spatial communication allows the multiple identities of self to create a new digital-physical identity that is no longer disconnected from my corporeal self and virtual self, but connected through the joint experience had by each identity, producing multiple versions of active self and allowing the constant and ever changing action of creation within the digital-physical.
So what is the digital-physical, and how can we see the world as an inhabitable spatial environment?
The interface acts as a place of communication, interaction and imputation where our actions create subsequent reactions, enacted within our digital-physical environments. This lets us inhabit space through corporeal and virtual movements while also allowing an outcome of these movements to occupy the digital-physical with our corporeal and virtual self. This embodiment of space allows us to create and interrelate with our multiple or singular identities, while the modes of occupation are limited to that only of the programme of the space. This allowance of freedom created by the digital-physical produces a plethora of opportunities for our identities to expand past the confines of the corporeal body, where interaction and inhabitation happen in a virtual and spatial environment. This convergence of space is how we experience our inhabitation of the world and is created by the interaction of the digital-physical world we live in.
Inhabiting the Digital-Physical through Gaming
In our gaming life we come to understand the rules and possibilities of each spatial encounter that we have, leading to the outcomes of the interactions we are experiencing. Being able to jump by pressing button X, or by trying to reach the hoop while playing basketball there are, in all circumstances, rules that apply to the space we inhabit, whether it’s your muscle fitness or programmed gravity there are always these constants. Learning the multiple controls and inputs to our digital-physical lives can result in the same level of confusion as learning a new language as indicated by the speculated difference between digital natives and digital immigrants in use of technology. These controls however, through use and practice?, can become as natural as walking and talking, A, B or left and right, all holding their own spatial and contextual outcomes. These controls can also be known as the interface with which we interact with the convergence of digital-physical environments, and their surrounding impacts on our identity.
3. Wang, Qian, Michael Myers, and David Sundaram, "Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants - Towards a Model of Digital Fluency," Business & Information Systems Engineering: Vol. 5: Iss. 6, (2013): 409-419.
4. Elund, Jude. Subversion, Sexuality and the Virtual Self. (Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 20.
One such interface is the VR interface offered at Zero Latency, an immersive video game experience, which brings an interactive interface that uses sensors and movement as well as triggers and corporeal actions with a controller (replica gun) to experience the gaming environment. This is also seen in my project IAN Walking, where the interface is the movement of the user, this is then interacted with virtually and corporeally by the interrelating of the actions of user and avatar. IAN walking lets the user interact with the avatar of IAN, a glitch in the picture of the virtual, escaping the replication of the corporeal and making a new world, one where the user and IAN are inhabiting the digital-physical.
Interaction through this interface is how we come to understand the world we live in now, a multitude of natural actions, swiping left and scrolling right now means we like or don’t like, instead of the words, actions relay emotions, and these actions have affect on the consequences of the user. An interface now acts like a tool of translation between action and emotion and self and place, where once we only had to decode corporeal emotional actions now we need to contend with the decoding of virtual emotional actions. This is the new language that we need to learn to live in the digital-physical and through this new language we can create place from the emotional actions and inactions of the interface. Whether this is contorted space or simple making of place, there are actions that happen within our corporeal and virtual self that have an affect on our identities, this is done through the interface.
Physical Interaction through digital interfaces
The digital interface has become an interactive tool with which we interact with the world around us, using it to communicate, control, create and play, it is forever changing and constantly growing. The computer keyboard a first example of an interface based on the typewriter, a representation of a past technology quickly became the ‘go to’ for controlling computers offering a natural progression from corporeal to virtual. However, technological evolution has resulted in new and different ways of controlling the virtual, from the screen and holographic pads, to movement sensors and VR headsets. The virtual isn’t just waiting for the input of the keypad but also offers now the feedback of multiple corporeal actions. This, in turn, has lead to the option of controlling our digital-physical self with not only the movements of bodily spatial interaction but also through the translation into the virtual body through the interface. We now are able to inhabit a space where we are making place in a digital-physical environment, creating multiple feedback loops from virtual to corporeal and corporeal to virtual, creating a new world where there is no separation between the digital-physical space.
5. Zero Latency ‘Virtual Reality Immersive Game’, Last Played May 7, 2016, https://www.zerolatencyvr.com
How this digital-physical environment is created through the actions of movements of the corporeal are much like the movements of IAN throughout the works of this semester including Folly of the Man and Gaming Tim. By the user controlling IAN it allows the creation of digital environments through the act of physicality, further involving the possibilities when talking about the digital-physical, this convergence of space and the creation of environments either through corporeal or virtual actions show a direct connection to the virtuality being constantly actualised and actuality being constant virtualised. Which allows us to always live in a space that is both virtual and actual, digital and physical a convergence of space called the digital-physical.
The corporeal and virtual experiences held within this immersion is highlighted with the convergence of this digital environment transporting the user from the actual to the virtual and back again. This unusual and opposite transition from actual to virtual is mentioned by Deleuze when he speaks of the Mirror, using the virtual to actual to virtual as a circular mode of creation or actualisation. This happens continuously when engaged in the game play of Zero Latency, allowing the virtual to create the actual and the actual to create the virtual in a mirrored affect, allowing immersion within both a corporeal and virtual environment. This corporeal play allows the user to interactively control the interface while also allowing a constant engagement with the digital-physical immersive environment of Zero Latency.
Digital Environments created by Physical Interactive Play
Playing Zero Latency has an affect on the senses fully immersing you into a gaming experience where you walk around and kill zombies with a realistic weapon and team-mates. Walking around a warehouse that you don’t realise you are in anymore, transported to the ruins of a dystopian zombie-plagued future where you need to fight your way to the evacuation aircraft, through hoards and militias, ducking and covering behind walls and objects while also engaging the enemy in every direction. Working together in a team of six, players are able to discuss their and view their teammates positions through a pop-up display on their headsets, providing multiple ways to gain information about and understand the spatial environment you’re inhabiting. These multiple modes of imputation all become the interface of inhabitation that creates full immersion within this gaming experience, while also engaging with other people in a digital-physical space allows you to create a community of play and experience where identity is expanded and a connection is created.
6. Howitz, Noah. The Reality of the Virtual: Continental Philosophy and the Digital Age. Doctoral Dissertation, (Loyola University Chicago, May 2003), 1119.
IAN looks to provide this convergence when interacted with however the possibility of gaming into the corporeal via a virtual means lends to the accountability of our self within the game, interacting with our identity without the game. Both of these IAN’isms help to move the prospect of interaction with the digital-physical into a motional aspect of gaming life. Gaming life can be seen as any interaction we have with video games, however this then glitch’s into our everyday, allowing the seepage of convergence to inquire into the motions we are undertaking to experience the space around us, or our spatial environmental inhabitancies. Making an exciting example of our gaming world as in Tim in the Folly allows us to control a familiar avatar, it also allows us to interact with the possibility of understanding the further implications of virtual interaction controlling both our corporeal and virtual self, while also allowing the expectation of identity to clear the way for a possible meltdown of preconceived ideas of the ‘real’ (this is the only time I will say real in this paper – real is everything and therefore null and void as a word) moving into a world where convergence is spoken of as a natural progression within the way we inhabit our spatial environment.
As spoken about previously we inhabit space, and this inhabitation of space is investigated through the study of Interior Design, which can be used to explore the space of digital-physical convergence. This convergence is experienced everyday and has a profound affect on how we live our lives interacting with the world around us, and our spatial environment. An inhabitation of space is understood by our virtual and actual self identifying with our surrounds, and position, within that space. This identifying of space allows us to occupy the digital-physical and live within this game of the spatial world.
Inhabitation and the convergence of space is a Virtual and Actual Game
Playing the world is like moving through space, it requires the knowledge of that spatial encounter to be able to move through it and press the buttons necessary to experience the world. This is shown in gaming, play and social contexts where we communicate through an interface with each other. This play could be seen as how we game through life, interacting with spatial concerns as we would in a game, moving towards an interesting possibility of gaming as learning and pre cursors to the spatial inhabitancies of our life. Whether this is endured through our everyday life or through our meeting with gaming worlds, it has a profound affect on how we interact with that specific space. Allowing a possible actualisation within all spatial situations, virtual, corporeal and digital-physical.
7. Pearson, Keith Ansell. 2005. The Reality of the Virtual: Bergson and Deleuze. Volume 120, (Comparative Literature Issue Number 5, December 2005), 1112-1127.
The Convergence of IAN looks to provide a screen that the user can inhabit whilst also interacting with IAN, allowing an identity to form within the virtual and corporeal spaces displacing, but also creating a mirror of, the user. This mirror is then used to interact in a second way with IAN, which moves the mirror or representation to a new form of creation, not reflecting or illustrating your corporeal body but allowing the imputation of movement onto the screen. This imputation moves the Convergence of IAN into a project that creates a convergence of space, allowing the user to inhabit both the corporeal screen and the virtual screen, moving away from a life of disconnect and into one of convergence.
Making a mark on the screen and inhabiting the screen both allow our first and second lives to connect with each other in a spatial context. The screen acts as a site of occupation that we use to explore the digital-physical, interacting, creating and making space to interact with our identity. This is where the identity is expanded and or created into the virtual, however never leaving the corporeal, allowing the mirror of the screen to reflect and obscure how we interact with the digital-physical. The embodiment of this identity happens on this screen of interaction allowing the user to experience the digital-physical in a convergent site.
First Life and Second Life on the Screen
Now it is understood that we, in fact, inhabit the digital-physical, we must also comprehend the affect this has on our identity, and the identities we evolve for our convergent life. Looking at the avatar as a graphical representation of such an identity I will explore in this final chapter how this identity or identities are fluid between the virtual and corporeal, allowing glitches and seepage of one identity to move between the other, and also into other people’s identities.
8. Doyle, Denise. “The Body of the Avatar: Constructing Human Presence in Virtual Worlds”. In Creating Second Lives: Community, Identity and Spatiality as Constructions of the Virtual, edited by Astrid Ensslin and Eben Muse, (New York, NY: Routledge, 2011), 99-112.
This isn’t an ode to future generations of designers and life livers, it is a warning for the now; we are living in a world where children buy identities online to interact with friends all across the corporeal earth, purchasing clothing from stores with no shopfront mannequins and fighting dragons who breathe deathly flames, whilst sitting in bed. A life where as interior designers we can ask the question of how we interact with the space we inhabit, and by doing so we have a responsibility to create thought-provoking place that questions the status quo. While also being able to destroy preconceptions of separate lives lived online and off, it needs to be accepted that there is no more offline; we are on and will most likely never be off again. It is our responsibility to help society transition from thinking that the big bad monster who lurks behind the screen is coming to get us, instead embracing the screen as site for imagination and creation to take hold, not just as a mirror or replication of life as we once knew it but as a medium for experiences.
A Life of Convergence
This life is a spatial one; moving through the world requires us to move across a plane interacting with surfaces of the corporeal and virtual, questioning the identity of self and community. Funnily enough, for so long now we have seen this as two opposing environments of the technological and digital revolution, shying away from the opportunities and reverence provided by this convergence. Trying to understand this space by applying the rules and thoughts of past interactions with ‘new’ technology is a mistake we often make and one that sadly persists in the territory of digital-physical convergence. Where we should have been learning ways to communicate and interact with this super highway disappearing quickly into the horizon, we have been too busy asking people to not forget what life use to be like, reminding us there once was a different set of rules and morals applied to living. This is a mistake that will hopefully change, even if one day we may find that we need to switch off, telling people to follow blindly will only blind us to the world as it is; one where identities are able to crash through screens and we are offered the choice of whom we want to be, how we want to live and what that surrounding space appears as, providing spatial inhabitancies that we have created in both the corporeal and virtual, also known as the ‘digital-physical’.
This will provide a possible foundation for digital-physical acceptance and furthering the path to a society of convergent inhabitation, where we are no longer afraid of the screen, but we embrace it as a part of our existence.
I look to create a space of digital-physical convergence where the interface becomes a multitude of corporeal and virtual interactions. These everyday encounters allow you to interact within a convergent environment questioning how our digital-physical identities inhabit the space around us. The manipulation of these spaces will allow our identities to inhabit and interact among each other, creating a truly convergent space.
Using the interface and screen as site I will produce multiple interactions with our digital-physical identities which will propose the probability of convergent experiences as an everyday event. Working within spaces that are reliant on the screen and interface used, I will create immersive environments through digital manipulation and interface technologies, such as motion sensors and pressure pads. These environments will then allow the user to interact with the space around them, their identities, and the identities of others.
A Digital-Physical Proposal
We live in a completely convergent reality where our digital-physical identities are no longer separated by a screen but are interacted with though an interface; a communication medium across the digital-physical. I will provide an approach to the future of digital-physical reality by exploring these interactions through Gaming, Identity and Screen as the possible modes of inhabitation and spatial understanding within this environment.
Video Gaming is a way of interacting with the environments we inhabit, whether it is using a controller or moving as the controller we are manipulating the space around us. The outcome of this manipulation is realised within the digital-physical, where our actions have outcomes that traverse the interface of the game.