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Haptic vision, footwork, place-making: A peripatetic phenomenology of the mobile phone pedestrian

Richardson, I. and Wilken, R. (2009) Haptic vision, footwork, place-making: A peripatetic phenomenology of the mobile phone pedestrian. Second Nature: International Journal of Creative Media, 1 (2). pp. 22-41.

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In this paper we aim to develop a post-phenomenology of walking through an analysis of the relation between pedestrian mobility and the use of mobile devices, and then apply this analysis to users of third and fourth generation location-aware touch phones that enable mixed reality gaming in urban spaces. As theorised by a number of human geographers, phenomenologists and proponents of material culture, walking is fundamental to our corporeality, ontology and cultural practices. In this light, it is our contention that mobile media use has a significant bearing on the habitudes of walking as such devices become increasingly embedded in our everyday ambulatory activities. At the outset, we will outline a 'peripatetic phenomenology' that can usefully interpret the embodied micro- and macro-practices of 'walking in the city' in present-day contexts. Following this, we will suggest that a phenomenology of walking in the contemporary urban circumstance must include a critical interpretation of 'tactile' or 'haptic' vision (eye-touch in Claude Gandelman's (1991) sense) and the special relationship between the eye, hands and feet to emerge from the practices of the mobile phone pedestrian. As we will argue, this inquiry invokes a relational and hybrid understanding of both space and place in public urban environments, investigating the particular body-place relations and place-making practices to emerge from modes of perception which are grounded in peripatetics and tactile vision. Our phenomenological approach will then be applied to location-based mobile gaming, to suggest how such activity invokes a particular body-place relation and 'peripatetic modality'.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: RMIT University. School of Media and Communication
Copyright: 2009 The Authors
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