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Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place:

Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
Since the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), but
above all since the emergence of the Internet, the traditional concepts and
experiences of place and body have radically changed.
The possibilities of interconnection and networking in real time seem to give rise
to the definitive overcome of spatial and temporal boundaries, generating a spacetime compression and challenging the role of place as stable and localized
environment in which human activities are developed. Thanks to Cyberspace,
mobile communication devices and to telepresence, we have become ubiquitous
and deterritorialized subjects, inhabitants of a new Space of Flows where the
physical body seems to be obsolete.
By means of the creative use of the same digital technologies, the artistic practices,
not alien to this transformation, have turned into an important way of reflection and
experimentation about spatiality and corporeity.
This paper intends to reflect about the spatial relationships built in this context,
showing how digital artistic practices play a key role in the r-conceptualization of
the notions of space, place and body. By analyzing specific and significant
examples of artistic works focused on telepresence and the construction of new
cartographies by means of Locative Media, the aim of this proposal is to study how
the notions of space, place and body, far form blurring, acquire an increasing
importance in experiencing the current technological reality. The main objective is
to show how telepresence and locative media, rather of provoking a loss of the
subjects physical relationships with the place, can become important elements to
reinforce the links between them. At the same time, these tools generate a complex
notion of place and body by making visible the real, virtual and imaginary
dimensions that shape them, giving rise to a complete re-signification of the
concepts of physical action, mobility and spatial occupation.
Key Words:
body, cyberspace,
reterritorialization, telepresence, locative media, digital art.


1. Introduction
The body is, in common terms, the physical and material structure of human
being. Its the framework of cells and tissues that articulates our complex
biological system. The body is organic matter that, as such, gets corrupted, aged
and finally dies.

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
However, the body is much more: it is the means through which we relate to
the environment, the material form of our way of being-in-the-world and the place
where subjectivity, feeling or identity meet.
Although the body has been a central topic along the history of occidental
thought, the duality mind-body and the predominance of idealism within the
dichotomy between nature and culture relegated the body, for centuries, to the
condition of mere container of the soul and the mind.
The progressive recognition of the social and cultural dimensions of the body
gave a new direction to this debate, turning it into a central object of study for
history, anthropology or sociology and leading to the redefinition of its nature in
phenomenological terms that overcame duality in favour of integration.
Coinciding with the deep socio-cultural transformations caused by
Postmodernity, new approaches to the body such as the questioning of its
determinism by feminist theories, the exaltation of consumerist culture within
which the body becomes a good and the main production and distribution means of
the consumer society or the generalized population aging and the advances of
modern medicine turned it into the target of several attentions, but also into a
notion in transformation, whose nature should be rethought in the light of the new
cultural situation.i
Probably, the main effect over the redefinition of the body comes from the
quick techno-scientific development in the second half of the 20 th century, occurred
especially in its last decades. That traditional division between nature and culture,
now focused on the distinction between nature and technology, begins to blow into
the air as technologies become increasingly important for our ways of doing and
thinking and as they are incorporated to the body, contributing together with
science and medicine to overcome its physical and biological limitations. The
technologies become a rich set of conditions of possibility to explore the limits of
the body and the mind, to experiment with its very nature and to reconfigure its
relationships with the environment. However, as pointed out by Domingo
the body has found an enemy (or a friend, depending on the point
of view) to its own measure. It is none other than its possible
disappearance, at least as we knew it. Opposite to the body cult,
now the body is obsolete. And thats why it has been modified,
dissected, metamorphosed.ii
Thus, in Cyberculture the body no longer is what it used to be and, therefore,
needs to be re-interpreted within the new paradigms of the new Cyborg ontology,
posthumanism or transhumanism

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
Although many of these issues have been raised throughout the book and will
also be analyzed in this chapter, the aim of this text is to reflect about two opposed
dynamics regarding to body transformations in Cybercultre: the bodys
obsolescence linked to virtualization and the reappraisal of corporeal experience.
To this scope, we will analyze these issues regarding to the very transformations of
the notions of space and place, considering their intrinsic relationship with the
body. And we will try to put forward these different ways of conceiving and
constructing space, place and body from the point of view of the artistic practices,
that is, considering the artistic uses of telepresence technologies and mobile
communication systems, which are the material basis of the above-mentioned
dynamics. I consider this approach essential because artistic practices, as symbolic
constructions of society, are and have always been regulators of the world
conceptions, as they propose critical points of view and practical and aesthetical
experiences that, straying from the everyday life, allow new glances at reality. This
becomes evident in our current technologically mediated environment, as the
artistic practices using ICTs as creative means denaturalize our interactions with
them. In this way they open new possibilities for reflection about their impact over
culture and, in this case, over our conceptions of the body, the space, the place and
their relationships.
2. Space, Place, Body and Technology
In her text Reconceptualizing Time and Space in the Era of Electronic Media
and Communications, Panayiota Tsatsou gives an interesting definition of the
notions of space and place according to certain approaches by authors as Yi-Fu
Tuan or Edward Relph. Tsatsou says:
(Space) is amorphous and intangible and not an entity that can
be directly described and analyzed. In relation to the often
intermingled concept of place, there is nearly always some
associated sense or concept of place in a way that it seems that
space provides the context for places but derives its meaning
from particular places. In this sense, place is a concretion of
value it is an object in which one can dwell whilst space
is given by the ability to move.iii
We usually define space as the three-dimensional expanse in which all objects
exist or as an interval of distance or time between two points, objects or events. iv
Therefore, space is a dimension of reality to which we are linked trough the
materiality of our own bodies. When space acquires symbolic meaning and
concrete definition, it becomes place, marking up the whole spectrum of identity
and sense of belonging.

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art
However, we must consider also that space is not only the physical expanse
that contains objects and subjects. This conception of space based on a notion of
absolute space as an entity that is external to human being and that merges from
Newtonian physics was widely accepted during the modernity. But, in the context
of postmodernism and regarding to what Fredric Jameson called the Spatial Turn,
this idea of space was replaced by a vision that considered it as a social
construction that depends on experience and action, on how space and place are
occupied and inhabited through action and mobility and, therefore, on the body as
a field of experience.
This reconfiguration of the notion of space was first advocated, among others,
by Henri Lefebvre, who set forward the idea of space both as a social product and a
social producer in relation to the spatial practices (experience, lived space),
representation of space (perceived, conceived) and space of representation
(imagination).v Pierre Bourdieu also developed this spatial vision of reality based
on the concept of habitus. As we are inscribed in space due to the materiality of
our own body, according to him, through the habitus defined as the practice of
everyday life that is written on the body we determine our placement and
generate spaces in social frameworks (gender or class). vi In this way, the habitus is
embodied in the bodys own spatial condition, while simultaneously, the social
construction of space exerts an influence on the habitus.
From these points of view, we can say that the reconfiguration of physical and
social space implies a whole reconceptualizacin of the body, while the
redefinition of the physical relations between space, place and body entails a new
experience of space.
This is exactly what happens in the case of Cybercultre, a context in which
ICTs have simultaneously altered both the dimensions of our bodies and of the
spaces within we operate, radically transforming how we conceive the body, the
space and the place.
Marchall McLuhan, for instance, considers that technologies and media are
extensions of the senses or of any physical or psychic human faculty. Thus,
according to him, the wheel is an extension of the foot. The book is an
extension of the eye Clothing, an extension of the skin Electric circuitry, an
extension of the central nervous system. vii
In this sense, he stated:
After three thousand years of explosion, by means of
fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is
imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our
bodies into space. Today, after more than a century of electric
technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our
planet is concerned.viii
If we go back to our previous considerations about how the redefinition of
space entails redefining the body and vice versa, we can understand in which ways
the extension of the body annihilates the space. But we can also understand how
the annihilation of the space entails a virtual annihilation of the body. In fact, and
paradoxically, the main consequence of the virtual extension of human capacities
over space and time has led to a disembodiment and a dematerialization of the
physical body and, therefore, to a loss of our sense of place.
But lets go deeper into this issue: What does it mean annihilation in this
context and how is carried out this process of disembodiment, of Virtualization of
the Body in Pierre Levys terms?
The transformation of our spatial perception was the result of the acceleration
of communication processes. The mobility possibilities offered by mechanical
means of transport, as well as the virtual mobility linked to physical immobility
offered by remote communications, outlined a new spatial and corporal landscape.
As pointed out by Anthony Giddens, before the emergence of remote
communications, space and place understood through the notion of local,
referring to the physical settlements of geographically located social activity
almost always coincided together, since social relations were ruled by physical
presence. By fostering relations between the absentees set at a distance from any
face-to-face interaction,ix the ICTs provoked a separation between space and place.
This process results from the communications conquest of spatio-temporal
barriers: ICTs eliminate the need to cover physical space, which as suggested by
different marxist theorists is virtually annihilated in favour of real time; a fact
that produced what Harvey calls the time-space compression.x
Besides this compression and anihilation of phisical space, ICTs have given
rise to the emergence of a new space, the Cyberspace, the virtual space of
communication emerging from the global interconnection of computers.
Cyberspace, according to Pierre Levy, is identified with the Network and can be
defined as
the new communication media emerging from the global
interconnection of computers. The term includes not only the
physical infrastructure of digital communication, but also the
large amount of information contained, as well as the human
beings who navigate and fuel it. xi
One of the characteristics attributed to it, precisely due to its intangible and
virtual nature, is a disconnection from the physical coordinates of space and time.

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art
If, as pointed out by Castells, the importance of Cyberspace in our culture is rooted
in the way that the Network absorbs all our cultural logics, including the spatial
one, it seems natural that the emergence of Cyberspace had created a new sense of
space, founded in the same logics of mobility that the information flows. That is
how a space of flows has replaced the traditional space of places, the physical
settlement of social activity located geographically.xii
Thus, going back to the relation between the virtualization of the space and the
virtualization of the body, if the former, as the material extension where our bodies
exist, is virtually annihilated to become a virtual space, then the body should also
have become a virtual body, which acts as a double of the physical one and that
inhabits Cyberspace. Therefore, we become ubiquitous subjects, capable of being
here and there (in the virtual space) at the same time. As Cyberspace gained more
importance as a socializing sphere, we have also become deterritorialized subjects:
given that subjects are no longer where they are, their social relationships in and
with the physical space are weakened.
In this context of virtualization, where as highlighted by Negroponte bits
have replaced atoms,xiii apparently the body has become just a mind. The physical
part of the body the Cartesian res extensa has remained obsolete, has been
replaced by the virtual one, just as the physical space has been replaced by the
virtual space.
These ideas of obsolescence of all physical matters of life were very important
in the social imaginaries of the 90s. Practices such as Virtual Reality nowadays
increasingly replaced by Augmented Reality considerably helped to reinforce this
images and ideas associated to the notions of space and body. We just need to think
about Cyberpunk classics as Neuromance or films as ExistenZ (1999) or The
Matrix (1999) to become aware of the deep links between the idea of the
obsolescence of the physical body and the notion of Cyberspace.
However, these ideas, of course, can be discussed. We know that physical
spaces and places have not disappeared, as we still have physical bodies that allow
us to be in those physical spaces and places. Castells and Levy themselves have
pointed out the importance of materiality, both for the configuration of the space
of flows and for the access to Cyberspace, which is executed through an interface
located in physical space.
In fact, the extension of human capacities by ICTs doesnt occur only over
space and time, but also in space and time. Our technological devices become
smaller and smaller, easier to carry, more and more adaptable to the body. This
trend toward the development of mobile devices, that begun with the laptop and
that has now became stronger thanks to smartphones, plays an important role in the
configuration of our sense of placeness, our virtual ubiquity experiences and our
ideas about the obsolescence of the body. But at the same time, the localization
technologies integrated with this devices, such as GPS (Global Positioning

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
System), reinforce our sense of place and remember us the corporeal and material
dimensions of our mobility through and within space, but also the importance of
performativity and sensoriality to construct and inhabit it.
Besides, mobile technologies alter our relationship with space: if, as we have
just seen, the emergence of Cyberspace created a sense of virtualized space
according to which the space of places had been replaced by the space of flows,
this mobile and location devices mark a new trend in our interaction with space and
place. It seems that in the case of mobile technologies, the virtual information itself
is attracted to local places. But besides, they dont just generate an imaginary
overlap of virtual spaces over the real ones or vice versa, but a coexistence of both
of them. This creates a new kind of space that Andr Lemos called Informative
Territories, areas where the information flow at the intersection between
Cyberspace and physical space is digitally controlled.xiv And deals also with what
Lev Manovich called Augmented Space which he defines as the physical space
that is overlapped by dynamic and changing information. xv This technologies
create a definitively a new type of space that we could refer as Hyperspace. The
term reflects it complex nature, consisting of several real, virtual and subjective
dimensions that convert it into a space in constant transformation, with which we
interact by dwelling the real and the virtual world simultaneously.
Going back, once again, to the intrinsic relationship between space, place and
body, we can consider that the hyperspace affects the construction of the latter not
only in terms of performativity or sensitivy, but also in terms of the construction of
identity inscribed into the body by the habitus.
From this point, my purpose is to account for these conceptions of body, space
and place and their own transformations thanks to the development of new
technologies, by analyzing them through the lens of artistic practices and
considering the creative and thoughtful use that those practices make of them.
3.Telepresence: Virtualized Space Obsolete Body?
Telepresence seems to be the maximum expression of the possibility of
annihilating body and space. Literally, the term telepresence means presence-at a
distance (Tele), where presence refers not to ones surroundings as they exist in
the physical world, but to the perception of those surroundings as mediated by both
automatic and controlled mental processes. xvi
Thus by telepresence we understand not only the virtual presence in
Cyberspace, but also the virtual presence in other physical spaces, with which we
can interact and where our actions have visible and practical effects on subjects,
objects and places geographically located far away from us.xvii
Precisely, Jonathan Steuer has defined telepresence as the experience of
presence in an environment by means of a communication medium; it is the

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art
mediated perception of a temporally or spatially distant real environment through
the means of some sort of telecommunications technology.xviii
According to Levy, Telepresence is mainly linked to the projection of the body
image. But in fact, he says, its more. Thus
The telephone, for instance, works as a tele-presence device,
because it does not carry and image or a representation of the
voices: it carries the voices themselves. The telephone detaches
the voices (or sonorous bodies) from the tangible body and
delivers it at a distance. My tangible body is here, my sonorous
body, split, is here and there. The telephone actualizes a partial
form of ubiquity, and the same split also affects the sonorous
body of my interlocutor. Although both of us are respectively
here and there, a cross in the distribution of our tangible bodies
takes place.xix
And he continues:
Virtual Reality systems also carry more that just pictures: an
almost presence, as the clones, visible agents, or virtual puppets
can affect and modify other virtual puppets and visible agents, or
even activate real devices at a distance and act in the ordinary
world. Certain functions of the body, as the capacity of
manipulation, linked to the sensory-motor connection in real
time, are transferred, thus, at a distance, throughout a complex
technical string used better and better in certain industrial
During the 1990s, coinciding with the expansion of new visions of space and
place provoked by the emergence of Cyberspace, many artistic practices tried to
explore the possibilities of interacting with remote spaces, setting out certain
reflections on its consequences and even on its ethical connotations.
One of the best-known and pioneering projects in this field was Ken
Goldbergs Telegarden (1995-2004, University of Southern California). It was a
cooperative on-line gardening initiative that allowed users of the entire world to
control trough the Internet a robotic arm that grew seeds or watered plants in a real
garden situated, since 1996, in the Ars Electronica Center, Linz (Austria). The
members of this gardening community could monitor all their actions, executed by
the tender movements of the industrial robotic arm, trough a camera. xxi This is a
good example of a virtually extended body, where sight and touch can arrive to
remote places; where our action barely depends on physical movement; were

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
virtualized body annihilates the space and where the virtual elimination of space
makes body action obsolete.
Mexican artist Lozano-Hemmers projects in public spaces are also very
representative of this kind of telepresence artistic practices. Vectorial Elevation
was created to celebrate the year 2000 at the Zocalo Square of Mexico. The work
consisted of a series of light beams that could be controlled trough the Internet by
users from all over the world. Thus, the work reflected on the aesthetic possibilities
of telepresence itself, but at the same time, it allowed an aesthetic re-definition and
the transformation of the real place through the different combinations of the light
beams and its movements.xxii For this reason, in a certain way, this project was also
challenging the idea of deterritorialization: we, who interact with the work, are
virtually ubiquitous we are able to alter a distant space in real time but we
cannot physically experience the effects of our action. However, other subjects
inhabit that other physical space. And, by aesthetically reshaping it through our
actions, we transform the practices of its inhabitants and we alter their perception
of that space, generating a new sense of place and locality related with their
embodied physical experience.
Although telepresence itself is a form of relation with the environment that
highlights the obsolescence of the body in terms of communication, it has been
also used by artists to reflect right on this phenomena for a critical point of view.
This is the case of the project Epizoo, by the Spanish artist Marcell Antnez,
conceived as a Mechatronic performance and presented for the first time in 1994.
Following other artistic experiments related with the Cyborg as objetictification
of the body as those developed by Stelarc, xxiii Antnez connected several
mechanic devices to his body. These mechatronic devices comprising a body
robot, which is an exoskeleton worn by the performer, a computer and a
mechanical body control device were remotely controlled by the users, who
could manipulate artists flesh and skin in their own way. The orthopaedic robot
mechanism was held to the body by two metal moulds, a belt and a helmet, into
which the pneumatic mechanisms were fitted. These mechanisms could move nose, buttocks, pectorals, mouth and ears while the artist remained
standing upright on a rotating circular platform during the performance. The
pneumatic devices were in turn connected to a system of computer controlled
electro-valves and relays. The computer run an exclusive application with an
interface similar to a videogame, with eleven interactive scenes of computer
generated animated sequences that recreated the figure of the artist and indicated
the position and movement of the mechanisms. In this way the user could control
the artist's body by using the mouse. xxiv In this performance, the main idea was to
explore the artists pain threshold, raising the question of the ethical consequences
of our remote actions, but also stressing the idea that despite all kind of

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art
virtualizations or cyborgizations, our body is still a battlefield, in fact, a bloody
4.Locative Media: Hybrid Space and Deterritorialez Body?
We have said that space and place are created through mobility and action,
through an embodied experience of reality. The development of ubiquitous
computingxxvi and mobile telephone technologies has allowed us to combine virtual
presence and mobility with physical mobility in localized places. The relationship
established between body and space becomes more and more complex and, as we
have already seen, far from blurring, both notions seem to acquire new dimensions
and to increase their importance for socio-cultural practices.
Locative Media is a type of artistic practice based on the use of devices and
location systems such as GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile phones etc., which are
built to allow the exchange of information with the physical world. This term,
coined by Karlis Kalinis in 2003, refers to the differences between the artistic use
of these devices and its commercial use. xxvii Based on these new localization
systems and combining them with other ICTs, the Locative Media create
alternative and collaborative maps in order to reshape our worldview through new
strategies of spatial representation beyond the imposition of an external geometry
on physical geography.xxviii
Thus the Locative Media practices consist in adding information to the physical
space to change the way we experience it. Therefore, they appear to challenge the
discourse on space versus cyberspace, insisting on the idea of physical space as a
territory, and on the production of spatial content defined by objects and places.
That is, they seek to generate a reterritorialization process trough virtual space. In
this sense, they are practices directly related to those proposed in the late 1950s by
the Situationist International, which tried to create social and political
transformations upon the recognition of territorial space and what they called
psycho-geography. As we can deduce from this description, the notion of body
and its natural linkage to space and place, have a great importance in this kind of
socio-political mappings.
In the realm of Locative Media, one of the best-known projects is
PacManhattan, developed in 2004 at the University of New York and performed in
several cities since then. It consists of a mixture of location and display devices
(mobile phones, Wi-Fi and a special software) aiming to enliven the well-known
videogame of the 80s, PacMan, placing it on an urban physical environment. It sets
a circuit of several streets along which the player (Pacman) runs, trying to collect
virtual dots. These dots are depicted on a map of the city that the player displays on
a mobile device. At the same time, four other players who represent the typical
ghosts of the videogame pursue Pacman, being able to locate him through the same
system.xxix In this case, the urban space becomes an augmented space where the

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez
body is also an extended body. But due to the localized and territorialized nature of
the performance, the body as a means of interaction with the environment recovers
it corporeal and embodied nature, which predominates over the idea of its
Locative Media involve a great range of different artistic typologies. Some of
them, more critic and based in the writing of new narratives of place, combine the
physical presence and mobility along it with personal and collective memories.
This is the case of Rider Spoke (Blast Theory, 2007), which is an intervention in
urban space consisting in recording messages in hidden places of the city by means
of a computer mounted over a bicycle. Participants had to discover the messages of
other people, which could be decoded only in the place where they were hidden. In
this case, space and place where re-constructed by the personal experience of
others, providing participants with new ways of engaging their daily Again, the experience of a territorialized body, located in a
particular place, takes priority over the virtual ubiquity: the physical presence is a
necessary condition to interact with information. Besides, the body, in its
dimensions of identity and subjectivity, is redefined by virtual information in
particular contexts.
Another example along these lines, but more specifically based on the idea of
mapping is Christian Nolds Bio Mapping (2004). It involves the creation of
emotional maps that represent areas of high and low emotionality. Such emotion is
captured on the passers during their tours on a particular area using galvanic skin
response devices. Then, this information displayed in constantly changing maps
which can be viewed on the network both while doing the tour and later. Thus, its
users are proposed to rescan the area in which they live according to these
emotional maps and their subjective implications. Thanks to these emotional maps,
users give a different interpretation to the urban environment and are more aware
of the decisions they make and how they affect them. Besides, the project also
allows social interaction from the pooling of data on the web.xxxi
Apart from the features that this works shares with the previous examples in
terms of questioning the obsolescence of the body within augmented spaces, Bio
mapping has the particularity that uses the body as the measuring parameter to
visualize peoples reaction to external world. Skin and emotions, the physical and
mental dimensions of the body, are here contextualized in geographical location.
Thus, the body, in its more biological and daily sense arises as a reality that,
beyond its possible technological reconfiguration, still matters in its very essential
In all these examples we can see how physical space and physical body interact
with virtual information by means of electronic devices. Therefore, they become
augmented and hybrid entities that merge from the superposition of virtual
information over them. But actually, they are reciprocally constructed mainly by

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art
physical activities of real subjects, who by means of their own mobility, by
means of their own physical presence in the shared space of the city reconstruct
not only a new way of experiencing space itself, but also a new way of
experiencing the materiality of their bodies in relation to space and place.
To sum up, we can say that the transformations of the notions of place, space
and body are an empirically verifiable fact nowadays, and one of the most
important effects of ICTs over social and cultural life. Regarding the nature of the
body and space itself, these transformations involve processes that critically
engage virtualization and actualization; mind, flesh and identity; place, territory
and mobility. As each of these aspects acquire new dimensions and possible
natures by means of technologies, our experience and perception of space and body
are modified by a number of imaginary and subjective tensions depending on
action and social practice over physical reality.
However, those transformations are far from being accomplished: they are still
developing, just like our own technical and communicational systems. That is how
in a few years, the predominant ideas that saw technological expansion as the
overcome of physical space and thus, as the announced death of the body, have
been challenged by new technologies that allow new ways of thinking about
virtuality and coporeality, as well as about our spatial practices within and with
them. But also, as we have seen, before the revolution of mobile technologies there
was already certain suspicions dealing with this sense of the obsolescence of the
body. Although in science fiction or in social imaginaries the more extended idea
was that we could, someday, leave behind our bodies to free our minds an idea
that is still based on the conception of the body as a container of the mind , we
could consider, as suggested by Hernandez, that what the obsolescence of the body
means, and has always meant, is just that the body is obsolete as we knew it.
Thus, the analysis of material practices in contemporary society in this case
artistic practices, which have also revealed different aspects of the evolution of
creativity and digital aesthetics opens a space to think about these processes
linked to ICT development, and, sometimes, forces us to re-think such accepted
contemporary concepts like deterritorialization. By means of this analysis, we can
state that in the current technological era, we live in a spatiality in which the real
and virtual spaces are getting more and more connected. This means that the body
is also reconceptualized, but not as an immaterial reality, but as a complex
expanded reality that is doubled in Cyberspace and thus resignified in real and
physical space.


M. Luisa Gmez Martnez

Reconceptualizing Body, Space and Place: Telepresence and Mobile Media in Art

M. Luisa Gmez Martnez

i About the cultural conceptions of the body and its evolution

see, among others: Mike Featherstone, Mike Hepworth, Bryan
S. Turner, ed., The Body: Social Process and Cultural Theory
(London: sage, 1991) or Michael Feher, Ramona Naddaff,
Nadia Tazi, ed., Fragments for a History of the Human Body
(New York: Zone, 1989).

ii Domingo Hernndez Snchez, ed., Arte, Cuerpo y

Tecnologa (Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca,
2003), 10.

iii Panagiota Tsatsou, Reconceptualizing Time and Space in

the Era of Electronic Media and Communications, Platform:
Journal of Media and Communication 1 (July 2009): 12,
accessed December 12, 2011,

iv Collins Dictionary Online, s.v. space, accessed December

14, 2011,

v Henry Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald

NicholsonSmith (London: Blackwell, 1991).

Peter Hubbard, ed., Key Thinkers of Space and Place (London:
Sage, 2009).

Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, An Inventory
of Effects, trans. Quentin Fiore (New York: Random House,
1989), 31.

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media. The Extensions of
Man (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994 (1964), 3.

Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity,
(California: Standford University Press, 1990), 29-30.

David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity. An Enquiry
into the Origins of Cultural Change (London: Blackwell,

Pierre Levy, Cyberculture, (Minnesota: University of
Minnesota Press, 2001), XVI.

Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society. The
Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Vol. 1
(Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2000).

Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (New York: Vintage,

Andr Lemos, Medios Locativos y Territorios Informativos.
Comunicacin Mvil y Nuevo Sentido de los Lugares,
Inclusiva-Net: Redes Digitales y Espacio Fsico, (March 2008),
accessed November 16, 2011,

Lev Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space,, accessed November 24, 2011,

James J. Gibson, The ecological approach to visual
perception. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979), quoted in
Jonathan Steuer, Defining virtual reality: Dimensions
determining Telepresence, in Frank Biocca, Mark R. Levy,
ed., Communication in the age of virtual reality (Hillsdale, NJ :
Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 1995), 35.

Eduardo Kac, Ornitorrinco y Rara Avis. El Arte de la
Telepresencia en Internet, in Claudia Gianetti, ed., Ars
Telemtica. Telecomunicacin, Internet y Ciberespacio
(Barcelona: LAngelot, 1998), 119-127.

Steuer, Defining Virtual Reality, 36.

Pierre Levy, Qu es lo Virtual? (Becoming Virtual)
(Barcelona: Paids, 1999), 28.


For more information about the work see:

For more information about this work see:

See, for example, his Exoskeletons:

For more information about this work see:


This idea can be traced also in other examples of the present

volume, as in the case of corset-training in certain
Steampunk communities.


Martin Weiser, The Computer for the Twenty-first Century,

Scientific American, 265 no.4 (September, 1991): 94104.


Lemos, Medios Locativos.


Dimitris Charitos et al., Prcticas Artsticas basadas en la

Localizacin que desafan la Nocin Tradicional de
Cartografa, Artnodes 8, (November 2008), accessed June 10,


For more information about this work, see:


For more information about the project see:



For more information about the project see:

Biocca, Frank, Levy, Mark R., ed., Communication in the age of virtual
reality. Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 1995.
Castells, Manuel, The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age:
Economy, Society and Culture, Vol. 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts:
Blackwell, 2000.
Charitos, Dimitris et al., Prcticas Artsticas basadas en la Localizacin
que desafan la Nocin Tradicional de Cartografa, Artnodes 8, (November
Featherstone, Mike, Hepworth, Myke, Turner, Bryan S., ed., The Body:
Social Process and Cultural Theory. London: Sage, 1991.
Feher, Michael, Naddaff, Ramona, Tazi, Madia, ed., Fragments for a
History of the Human Body. New York: Zone, 1989.
Gianetti, Claudia, ed., Ars Telemtica. Telecomunicacin, Internet y
Ciberespacio. Barcelona: LAngelot, 1998
Giddens, Anthony, The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1991.

Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity. An Enquiry into the

Origins of Cultural Change. London: Blackwell, 1991.
Hernndez Snchez, Domingo, ed., Arte, Cuerpo y Tecnologa. Salamanca:
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 2003.
Hubbard, Peter, ed., Key Thinkers of Space and Place. London: Sage, 2009.
Jameson, Fredric, Postmodernism or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991.
Lefebvre, Henry, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith.
London: Blackwell, 1991.
Lemos, Andr , Medios Locativos y Territorios Informativos.
Comunicacin Mvil y Nuevo Sentido de los Lugares, Inclusiva-Net:
Redes Digitales y Espacio Fsico, (March 2008). Accessed November 16,
Lev Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space.
Accessed November 24, 2001,
Levy, Pierre, Cyberculture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press,
Levy, Pierre, Qu es lo Virtual? (Becoming Virtual). Barcelona: Paids,
McLuhan, Marshall, The Medium is the Massage, An Inventory of Effects,
trans. Quentin Fiore. New York: Random House, 1989.
McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994 (1964).
Negroponte, Nicholas, El Mundo digital. Barcelona: Eds. B, 1995.
Tsatsou, Panagiota, Reconceptualizing Time and Space in the Era of
Electronic Media and Communications, Platform: Journal of Media and
Communication 1 (July 2009): 11-32. Accessed December 12, 2011,
Weiser, Martin, The Computer for the Twenty-first Century, Scientific
American, 265 no.4 (September, 1991): 94104.
Marisa Gmez Martnez is PhD student at the University of Barcelona.
Her research interests are focused on social imaginaries, space-time
transformations and audiovisual aesthetics in the context of the digital