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Publication Detail
Making sense of digitally remediated touch in virtual reality experiences
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Jewitt C, Chubinidze D, Price S, Yiannoutsou N, Barker N
  • Publication date:
    01/06/2021
  • Journal:
    Discourse, Context and Media
  • Volume:
    41
  • Status:
    Accepted
  • Print ISSN:
    2211-6958
Abstract
Touch, often called the ‘first sense’, is fundamental to how we experience and know ourselves, others and the world. Increasingly, touch is being brought into the digital landscape. This paper explores this shifting landscape to understand the ways in which touch is re-mediated in the context of virtual reality. With attention to the sensoriality and sociality of touch, it asks what ‘counts’ as touch in VR, how is touch experienced and how is it incorporated into meaning making. We present and discuss findings from a multimodal and multisensory study of 16 participants interacting in two VR experiences to describe: the participants’ material encounters with the virtual through a focus on touch practices, expectations and norms; the ways in which participants made meaning of (and with) virtual touch through their dynamic selection and orchestration of the range of semiotic and experiential resources available; and how these virtual touch experiences translated into discourses of touch in VR to emphasize continuities and change between the past, present and futures. The paper comments on the methodological challenges of researching touch in the emergent landscape of VR and asks how multimodality might engage newly with touch, perhaps the most under-rated and neglected of modes and senses, and its digital remediation.
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