Where bodies end and artefacts begin: Tools, machines and interfaces

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Abstract

Our use of artefacts has at different moments been characterised as either replacing or impoverishing our natural human capacities, or a key part of our humanity. This article critically evaluates the conception of the natural invoked by both accounts, and highlights the degree to which engagement with material features of the environment is fundamental to all living things, the closenessof this engagement making any account that seeks to draw a clear boundary between body and artefact problematic. By doing this I seek to clarify the nature of our embodied relationship with various kinds of artefacts; moving from tools to machines to digital interfaces, I consider their differing potentials to be gathered into the body schema, and thus change our embodied horizons of perception and action. While much research currently seeks to facilitate a more `natural? mode of interacting with technology, I argue that such a mode of interaction does not exist outside the particularity of our relationshipswith specific objects.As a result, rather than trying to cater to supposedly more natural modes of action and perception, future technologies should aim to enrich our experience with new modes, inviting novel relationships that produce new kinds of sensory and other experience
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31 - 60
Number of pages30
JournalBody & Society
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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