CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
Computing the corporeal
Special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
Edited by Nicolas Salazar Sutil, Sita Popat and Scott deLahunta
Intersections between human movement, computer science and
motion-tracking/sensing technologies have led to novel ways of transferring
body data from physical to digital contexts. From a practical perspective, this
integration requires engagement across key disciplines, including movement
studies, kinesiology, kinematics, biomechanics, biomedical science and health
studies, dance science, sports science, and computer science. This development
has also provoked theoretical and critical discourse that has tried to
preserve, based on its grounding on bodily and kinetic practice, the
differentiation of lived-in and body-specific knowledge. Here is a mode of
datarization perhaps closer to what Deleuze (1988) called “immediate datum”:
i.e. information stemming not from an abstract and re-moved conceptualization,
but from real-world experience of movement, and the immediate perception or
capture of kinetic information through physical or sensorial means. Within the
field of software studies, advancing a sense of digital materialism has raised
concerns for the materiality of technological media, for instance by focusing
on the physical constraints of data storage, or the material dimension of
computing. But what about “immediation”, i.e. immediate computation of bodily
movement by machines for immediate expression, representation or enactment in
digital contexts? And what of the representability of such immediation? How can
we describe movement and preserve its datum of difference within a scriptable
or graphicable computer language without falling into a universal sameness, a
movement without bodies?
Whilst the idea that immediate data may demand a “bodying forth” (Thrift 2008),
a traffic of bodiliness from biological to technological contexts, it is
necessary to de-homogenise the ‘body’ category. Perhaps what is needed is an
understanding of “corporeality” that assume multidimensional and relativistic
realities of bodies instead, opening up nuanced discourses based on specific
body-related ontologies (corpuscles, builds, anatomies, skeletons, muscle
systems) all making up a non-singular sense of the bodily real. As such, this
collection poses the problem of criteria. Our question is this: how and to what
effect does the research community adopt arbitrary criteria in order to compute
the body and bodily movement? Can we define narratives emerging from this
body-computing arbitration to provoke a critique?
There is a possible tension between “bodying forth”— the idea of a single body
operative across both biological and computational contexts—and corporeal
relations. We would like to focus this critical edition on the relations
between differentiated anatomical or bodily systems (skeletal, muscular, nerve,
etc.), and different modes of computation, as well as different theoretical
discourses stemming from this experiential basis. If we recognize the problem
of relationality we must assume that more than one complex set of co-relations
meet when the machine computes the moving human body. How do we start the
process of computer-generated learning in terms of selecting body parts,
functions, organs, processes, on the one hand, and key languages, code, or
indeed technological tools for capture on the other? To what extent does
corporeal computing contribute to certain bodily systems (or perhaps even body
types) becoming the key agents of action, and indeed learning, in such
contexts? How do we respond critically to privileged systems (the skeletal, the
muscular), and body types (so called ‘normal bodies’)? To what extent are
computational paradigms still dominated by spatial, extensive and quantitative
determinations (i.e. the tracking of skeleton, body geometry, kinematic shapes,
etc.) that hide other, more intensive, modes of corporeality? And finally, how
do we reintegrate the multiplicity of the corporeal in a computational
synthesis? For instance, how can we understand the quantitative and qualitative
(dynamics, effort, tone, intensity, etc.) as overlapping data priorities?
Topics or projects might include:
• Computable relations between bodies and digital avatars, digital dance
representations, digital sports representations, digital health
representations, digital animation— digital bodies in general.
• Computable relations between biological bodies and robotic systems.
• Computing relations between physical movement and abstract thought,
automated thought (AI) or machine learning.
• Computing mobility studies (i.e. relations between body and automobile,
body and assisted mobility machines, body and prosthetics).
• Computing sociokinetic material (i.e. computing the movement of groups
• Affective corporeal computing— the capacity to process psychophysical
and cognitive processes within corporeal movement (e.g. computing effort,
dynamics, tonicity, emotion).
• Integration of quantitative and qualitative body datasets.
• Metabody theory and notions of meta-anatomy, meta-strata in the
ontological literature (i.e. movement of digital ghosts, sprites,
750 word abstracts are due April 17th.
Please send abstracts to n.salazar(at)leeds.ac.uk
For any informal queries please contact s.popat(at)leeds.ac.uk,
scott(at)motionbank.org or n.salazar(at)leeds.ac.uk
Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the
special issue editors. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by April
24th and invited to submit full manuscripts by September 26th. These
manuscripts are subject to outside peer review according to Computational
Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in January 2017.
Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of
inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects,
practices, processes and structures