Somaesthetics
Exploration of the Personal Computer
SomaMouse_
ConsciousLogin_

Somaesthetic Exploration of the Personal Computer is my dissertation about somaesthetics also known as body consiousness as an important aspect when interacting with the personal computer.

Written in collaboration with Arne Knutinge-Kaas.


Abstract

In this paper we explore how the personal computer is a part of what makes us as humans unaware of our body in the everyday life. We explore if the philosophy of somaesthetics in design exploration somehow is able to challenge this unawareness. We do this based on Richard Shusterman’s thesis that, by exploring fundamental features of our embodied ways of engaging in the world and transforming it through action and construction, somaesthetics can provide useful insight and practical skills to help designers produce products and situations that provide more rewarding and pleasurable experiences. We argue throughout this paper that somaesthetics can provide a more body conscious way of interacting with and designing for the computer.

_____ In order to explore the design potential of somaesthetics, we used an autobiographical design approach and took part in the somatic practice Feldenkrais to establish practical knowledge of the somaesthetic philosophy. Through Feldenkrais and a creative user survey we were able to create two prototypes SomaMouse and ConsciousLogin to challenge the existing situation of the interaction with the personal computer. While SomaMouse proposes a more body active way of controlling the computer’s cursor in the interaction, ConsciousLogin forces focus on bodily consciousness before the interaction.

_____ In this paper we conclude that the main challenge to cause a somaesthetic interaction is to raise the awareness of existing habits and the establishment of new ones. While our prototypes are able to evoke a somaesthetic experience, they both fail to maintain bodily consciousness throughout the interaction. The primary responsibility for maintaining bodily consciousness lies within the person who uses the design. However we propose the idea of a mechanic connoisseur which implemented in a design guides and forces the user to a more somaesthetic awareness.

_____ We cannot draw any broader conclusions or generalizations on user needs because of our autobiographical design approach. Still this paper can be the point of departure for future investigations of somaesthetics and the personal computer.


Read the whole dissertation in danish here.
Read an unofficial article about the paper here
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