Spacing the Boundary: An Exploration of Perforated Virtual Spaces

Spacing the Boundary: An Exploration of Perforated Virtual Spaces

PsychNology Journal, 2005 Volume 3, Number 1, 74 – 89

Petra Gemeinboeck, Roland Blach

As we are bodily implicated, real and virtual space are superimposed, creating thus a porous interface that complicates the denial of physical presence of cyberspace. Rather, here both the production and the inhabitation involve a constitution of boundaries in-between that continuously twist, shift, and perforate. It is here, where Posthuman views on bodies and territories and immersive interface technologies meet the issue of space: as the unsettled ground is bodily negotiated, the interface between the real and the virtual is fundamentally spatial. (75)

the perforation and crossing of boundaries, and the multi-inhabitation3 of shared, networked virtual places. In this discourse, virtual environments don’t represent a predesigned world, but rather constitute the emerging ground for a space, which primarily unfolds in an experiential process. (76)

Uzume’s world is bound to the (physical) boundaries of its projection space that can be bodily ‘occupied’ and thus only explored by the participant’s physical movements. (76)

Considering space in relation to experience as a dynamically evolving passage, also constitutes the framework of embodiment that, according to Katherine Hayles, “always is contextual, enmeshed within the specifics of place, time, physiology and culture, which together compose enactment” (Hayles, 1999). (81)

Merleau-Ponty’s body-subject becomes the entre-deux that inseparably intertwines the experience of mind and body and whose relational condition corresponds to a concept of space and time that is corporeally constituted (Vasseleu, 1998). Based on Merleau-Ponty’s notion, which Ruth Rettie (2005) discusses in detail with regard to presence, embodiment is an essential condition for the formation of the context that enables relations between our selves and others. It also forms the context within which we relate to our surroundings and within which we can extend our selves. (81)

Our body becomes the interface between these two spaces, the real and the virtual, based on whose exploration, movement and performance we produce knowledge and provoke space. (81)

The disavowal of the corporeal is thus

one of the greatest illusions ever evoked by Virtual Reality. The desire to abandon our physical and thus bodily boundaries arises from the Cartesian division of mind and body, and thus also of space. Cyberspace and its non-physicality has thus become a controversial field, legitimizing a determined control over the body’s messy and noisy conditions. (82)

…are concerned with the perforation of boundaries as it involves our body and hence its determination as “a negotiable territory” (Vasseleu, 1994). (82)

Elizabeth Grosz,

“do not so much define the routes of passage; it is movement that defines and constitutes boundaries. These boundaries, consequently, are more porous and less fixed and rigid than is commonly understood, for there is already an infection by one side of the border of the other; there is a becoming otherwise of each of the terms thus bounded” (Grosz, 2001). (85)

…in a kind of in-between space…Traversing the virtual passage requires one to understand that there is no continuous spatial passage. (85)

Becoming a fluid extension of the participants’ movements, the emerging space always remains unfinished and produces points of contact and leakage, lines of continuity and cracks, planes of reflection and polarization in-between. (87)


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