Monash University
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Swing that thing: moving to move: the poetics of embodied engagement

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posted on 2017-01-31, 04:43 authored by Wilde, Danielle
Swing that thing : moving to move represents a systematic investigation of the poetic valence of body-worn technological extension. Gestural, mechanical and sensorial extension are explored and evaluated. The impact of different choices throughout the development process are considered, and theories relating to language, movement and cognition, as well as defamiliarisation and enchantment are leant upon to arrive at an emergent definition of a poetics of embodied engagement. Focusing on the body and its capacity for movement opens up opportunities to develop deeply felt experiences that take us far beyond pragmatic considerations of functionality or practicality. Pairing technology with the body is not new. Yet embodied engagement has only recently emerged as a field of interest in its own right, despite the fact that moving is central to life. Humour, passion and empathy are desirable attributes through which to engage people. Through the praxis I demonstrate that core- and full-body engagement in ambiguous and playful situations, assist designer and participant to arrive at deeply felt understandings of embodied existence, and thereby re-imagine body-technology scenarios to mitigate unmet desires. This research champions a number of key ideas. If we engage the body through the imagination and the imagination through the body, we can blur distinctions between art and everyday life. Doing so may result in transformative outcomes in contexts that are not usually considered cultural. By beginning with the body, rather than a perceived opportunity to redesign and thereby improve, I have been able to develop systems and processes that afford clumsy, as well as skilled engagement. Participation has thereby been democratized. The results are artefacts and opportunities for embodied engagement in cultural contexts, as well as in abilitation and learning. 

Awards: Winner of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Excellence, Faculty of Art and Design, 2011.


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Principal supervisor

Melissa Miles

Additional supervisor 1

Richard Helmer

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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