Friday, 10 August 2012

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… From Concealed Potential to Visual Targets of our Conscious Use

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“As Michael Wheeler points out, most expertly, there are not just simply two ways of interacting with the world that surrounds us. These two poles provided by Heidegger, represent the extreme ends of a spectrum of interaction opportunities that blend into one another (…) where we are often shifting quickly from one mode to the other in a very inexpert ‘unready to hand’ way. What is perhaps most important about this approach to understanding our relationship to things in the world and interactive technologies in particular is that, while it does not deny that we might have some form of representational knowledge about the world, it focuses on our connection to the world through our bodies in the first instance, promoting the idea that we are so connected to our surroundings that we need not build mental models of the world around us in order to act, but that we might simply act through a ‘direct’ relationship to them. This is very different from the original cognitive approach to HCI” (p36)

Ready-to-hand and present–at-hand interactive opportunities are opposite ends of ways of interacting within the world. They present an interesting directness to interaction, as they suggest that our relationship to the objects we use changes from concealed potential to visual targets of our conscious use. How this is approached can bypass tacit knowledge leading to an embodied response. As understanding is not always articulated through language it can be an embodiment leading to direct action. This direct action can be articulated and expressed through an interpreted meaning being derived from the calls to action that prompted the interaction.

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