FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
RUS | ENG

Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38

 

SMARTPHONE AS A WITNESS: TECHNOLOGICAL MEDIATION OF BODILY SENSORY EXPERIENCE

Elena Sokolova
Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
32a Leninskiy Av., Moscow, Russia
elena.k.sokolova()gmail.com

Abstract: The article explores how the use of smartphones — one of the most widespread user technologies at the moment — change the traditional (offline) body-oriented practice of authentic movement. It aims to determine one role of the smartphone as a technology of mediation, as well as to highlight the effects of mediation at the level of bodily and sensory experience. Technological industries increasingly focus on data methods that help to exclude the so-called human factor: errors, incorrect information, and the high costs of contact. However, in this general context of the increasing efficiency of research, there is a desire not to exclude the subjective position of a user altogether: it has value for a social researcher who makes it possible to discover meanings that are inaccessible to big data methods with the help of a holistic ethnographic approach. Based on empirical material, a smartphone can immediately absorb a user’s attention and remove them from the surrounding environment. It also gives users an opportunity to become creators. In this sense, a smartphone camera is like a traditional camera, but it becomes much more effective. It has the potential for expanding a user’s capabilities by connecting people and providing a constant flow of information feedback, including visual feedback. However, there are some limitations imposed by technological mediation, such as a decrease in the ability to fully maintain contact with the bodily-sensory dimension of self and others, compared to offline situations. Intruding into a practice of authentic movement, a smartphone can be perceived as a technological other, an abstract figure filled with various individual meanings, fears, and expectations. As a witness, a smartphone is the big eye of the big brother, which turns authentic movement into performance, but doesn’t allow the majority of practitioners to completely feel this art with their disconnected bodies. Therefore, many of them are not ready to use smartphones in their regular offline formats. Technologies make us connected and visible, but this does not mean to be seen in the sense of genuine co-presence in authentic movement.

Keywords: body, technologies, smartphone, mediation, authentic movement, witnessing, experiment, ethnography, postphenomenology.

To cite: Sokolova E., ‘Smartfon kak svidetel: tekhnologicheskaya mediatsiya telesno-sensornogo opyta’ [Smartphone as a Witness: Technological Mediation of Bodily Sensory Experience], Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38, pp. 147–171.

doi: 10.31250/1815-8870-2018-14-38-147-171

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/038/sokolova.pdf