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Methodological reflections on Avatars and the Research Laboratory, May 18, 2011

May 18 Sisse Siggaard Jensen and Dixi Louise Strand will visit Mediaology at Aalborg University, Copenhagen to give a talk on Experience Lab, avatars, and experimental research methods. See more about the event here and read our abstract below.

Researchers from three distinct disciplines at Roskilde University, Computer Science, Communication and Business, have recently joined forces to found an interdisciplinary centre studying new forms of communication and experience enabled by new technologies. The Experience Lab is thus a new setting both for researching the latest technology for creating experiences, including such topics as augmented reality, multi-sensory reconstructions, gestural and affective interfaces, and also the communicative, social and business dimension of these technologies, in collaboration with users. The talk will introduce the Lab and an experimental pilot project on the “Interactive Experience Cylinder”. Thereafter an ongoing study of Avatars in Flux will be presented. There is an almost unquestioned consensus in the virtual worlds’ research communities that an avatar is the representation of a user and player in front of the screen and that the relationship between the two predominantly is about identity and self-construal. The talk questions the consensus and conception to suggest that we nuance and broaden our understanding of the relationships of avatars with their owners. The talk suggests that an understanding of avatars as mediators in relations of companionship will help us interpret and understand avatars as a performative phenomenon in flux and with blurred boundaries. The talk will conclude with methodological reflections regarding future studies of the relationships of actors and avatars when studied within the experience cylinder space and in a lab-based setting.

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