Bodies and Digital Embodiment

While working on the MakeHuman platform, I engaged with the pauper I had been researching in a new way. Being responsible for her body meant thinking about her recent pregnancy in physical terms. I had to negotiate between considering the extra weight she might have gained from pregnancy and the lack of nutrition in an 18th century pauper’s diet. Where in her body would each of these manifest? How would her labor tasks from before her pregnancy have affected her musculature? I realized I didn’t know and would have had to circle back to do new research.

Even though I couldn’t shape her appearance exactly as I wanted, I was able to engage in some substantive process-based questions during my MakeHuman session. After an avatar (a product) is built, though, those process-based experiences can disappear for the user, as the experience playing Dangerous Embodiments taught me. However, allowing a user to create an avatar without any historical information seems equally, if not more, at odds with process of building empathy in a historically authentic way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *