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Embodied perceptions of darkness: Multistable experiences of mobile media in the urban night

Hardley, J.ORCID: 0000-0002-0029-3726 (2021) Embodied perceptions of darkness: Multistable experiences of mobile media in the urban night. M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture, 24 (2).

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The past decade has seen a burgeoning new field titled “night studies” or “darkness studies” (Gwiazdzinski, Maggioli, and Straw). Key theorists Straw, Shaw, Dunn, and Edensor have spearheaded this new field, publishing a recent flurry of books and other scholarly work dedicated to various aspects of the night. Topics range, for instance, from the history of artificial lighting (Shaw), atmospheres of urban light and darkness (Sumartojo, Edensor, and Pink), street music and public space at night (Reia), the experience of eating in the dark (Edensor and Falconer), walking at night (Morris; Dunn), gendered experiences of the city at night (Hardley; Hardley and Richardson “Mobile Media”, “Mistrust”), and women’s solo experiences of the wilderness at night.

Contributing to this new field, this article considers some of the embodied ways mobile media have been deployed in the urban night. To date, this topic has not received much attention within the fields of mobile media or night studies. The research presented in this article draws on a qualitative research project conducted in Australia from 2016-2020. The project focussed on participants’ use of mobile media in urban spaces at night and conducted a specific analysis of pertinent gendered differences. Throughout my iterative and longitudinal research process, I engaged various phases of data collection to explore participants’ night-time mobile media practices, as well as to consider how darkness and the night impact networked practices in ways that speak to the postphenomenological concept of multistability (Ihde Postphenomenology and Technoscience). I highlight the empirical findings through a series of participant stories, exploring salient insights into embodied perceptions of darkness and various ways of co-opting mobile media practices in the urban night.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): IT, Media and Communications
Publisher: M/C - Media and Culture
Copyright: © 2021 M/C
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