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Philosophy for Multisensory Communication and Media

Keith Kenney

Multisensory media – hybrid media that engage more than the auditory and visual senses – is beginning to change the way that we communicate. While hardware and software for capturing and emitting different types of sensory data are still being developed, this book lays a theoretical foundation for their use. Drawing upon the ideas of philosophers who write about sensory perception as well as each of the senses, Keith Kenney explains the issues that communication and media scholars will need to investigate as we begin to exchange haptic, olfactory, and even gustatory messages.

Scholars interested in communication theory, media theory, and multimodality will discover new ideas by current philosophers, while scholars of sensory studies will learn how their field can be extended to communication and media. Designers of multisensory experiences, such as videogame developers, will find practical suggestions for creating richer and more meaningful experiences. A dozen sidebars apply philosophical ideas to common experiences so that the text can be used in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.


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Chapter 9. Human-Technology Perception and Agency


· 9 · human- technology perception and agency In the previous chapter I described fresh ways to consider seeing, including seeing presence rather than seeing things and machinic seeing instead of hu- man seeing. I also discussed the idea of painting, photographing, and filming sensations rather than relying simply upon representations and stories. An- other common theme was that even “visual” media are multisensory because audiences use their multisensory memories when they “see” a painting, pho- tograph, or film. In this chapter I explain how the idea of being human is changing. Not only are we treating humans as if they are disembodied, but also as if they are forces in relation with networks of technologies. I also explain how interac- tive technologies are continually collecting data, including sub- sensory infor- mation, which we can’t perceive. Sometimes we consciously take advantage of this data, but other times it is affecting us without our conscious consent. I then explain Vilém Flusser’s idea that we are becoming “functionaries” of our cameras and other “apparatuses” and, as a result, are losing our freedom. 194 philosophy for multisensory communication and media We Are Flesh and Blood or We Are Forces We have both a “body image” and a “body schema,” writes Mark Hansen (U.S. philosopher at Duke University). A body image is the visible shape of our body. A body schema, on the other hand, is the body as well as the body’s capabilities of interacting with other organisms and its environment (Hansen, 2012). A...

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