Research project This project addresses the notion of self in the wake of changes evinced by emerging communication technologies. In particular, it investigates how the digital avatar revises our theories of selfhood by reconfiguring our experiences of time and space, and how these revisions affect our ideas of identity, presence and embodiment.
This project examines the digital avatar in terms of its ideas of selfhood, specifically in relation to issues of identity, post-identity, personality and posthumanism. Defined as "an interactive, social representation of a user" (Meadows, 2008: 13), an avatar acts and interacts in its virtual world in place of the person driving or controlling it. In so doing, the avatar transmits/transmutes an alternative self (of the user) - an investment of identity beyond the visuality of photography or of cinema. I explore the representation of this self vis-à-vis the avatar: How does the avatar reflect the user? How is the digital self fragmented or cohered in virtual worlds? What ethics govern the digital self? Using theoretical methods, the project critically investigates the nature of selfhood in the light of new media technologies through humanist and posthumanist readings, using, where appropriate, examples from film, digital art and other visual media as case studies. The objective of the research is to offer a new perspective on the human-machine relationship via digital media technologies, with suggestions for their wider implications on digital theory and culture.