Friday, 17 August 2012

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Ready-to-hand and Present-at-hand Modes

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

“Interacting with the media of all kinds then falls between these two modes of being. On one hand we perceive and encounter our media-rich environment directly, we manipulate it and transform it through our-ready-to-hand mode of being. On the other hand, we are constantly viewing, reading and interpreting mediated information through the reflective mode of encountering it as present-at-hand. At the same time we move between these two modes of being as we inscribe, interpret, transcribe and transform our mediated environment. In a very clear sense we are deeply entwined physically with the media in our environment and in another we are constantly making, and making sense of, the inscriptions that the media environment affords us.” (p140)


An experience fluctuates between a ready-to-hand mode of being and a present-at-hand mode. The former involves the perception, interpretation, action and physically embodied manipulation using what is at hand in the experience of interacting within the present environment the person finds themselves in. The latter a more reflexive interpreting state of scanning what is available, making sense of the semiotic messages inscribed within the present environment the person finds themselves in.

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