Thoughts: Curation — Embodied Technology as Paralysis and Freedom

We have now reached a stage of technological development that immersive technologies demand our attention, they demand interaction. There is no way to wear a VR headset and not interact (at least with our attention) with the experience; it pulls us away from our bodies. VR attempts to isolate the mind and as such is a form of paralysis.

Artist: Claudia Hart, Image Source: miller-ica.cmu.edu

Paralysis is terrifying; it is anathema to our physicality as sense-and-responders. Not only the rise of VR but also the dominance of touchscreen (It’s All Screen!) technology largely isolates our sense-and-response to visual cues; on Instagram, “liking” a picture of a porcupine feels the same as “liking” a picture of a boyfriend pillow.

Artist Siebren Versteeg, Image Source: miller-ica.cmu.edu

Since technology is meant to be useful (by its very definition), we take for granted that it is meant to be interactive. But technology can also be useful through its ability to push us away, to resist interaction. Text written in inaccessible books frees us, returns ourselves to our bodies, by encouraging and then rebuffing our attention. Technology that encourages physicality over or at the expense of the mind is technology all the same, especially as the usefulness of returning to us our physicality grows.

Artist: Anselm Kiefer, Image Source: imagejournal.org/article/where-do-you-stand/