Database for Animation Studies


The Multilocal Self: Performance Capture, Remote Surgery, and Persistent Materiality

Over the last two decades, the technologies of performance capture and robotic surgery have increased in both use and visibility. While these technologies might initially seem quite dissimilar, they each produce a human–machine assemblage that enacts itself across different scales. Each technology ‘captures’ a performance, translates that performance into digital information, and recodes that performance into another body. This article argues that both performance capture and remote surgery penetrate the materiality of the body and reconstitute that materiality elsewhere, as a human’s bodily movements are captured, transmitted, translated, and finally recoded into that of another body, be it an analogue or digital form of embodiment. The shift in scale produced by each technology – in terms of movement, perception, experience, and sensation – demonstrates the extent to which these technologies of telepresence foster a multilocal experience of the body, the dispersion of authorial control across the human–machine assemblage, and a reinforcement of embodied experience despite an embrace of cultural fantasies of the disembodiment of information. This article takes an explicitly phenomenological position, examining the connective tissue that binds actor and avatar, surgeon and robot. The ligaments that connect human and nonhuman both separate and draw the entities close together, and this article explores the resultant shifts in scale, perception, and experience engendered by performance capture and robotic surgery.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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