[ISEA2011] Paper: Marco Cesario & Lena Hopsch – The Body in Digital Spaces


The aim of this paper is to investigate the perception of space in the context of digital architecture. Our starting point is Merleau-Ponty’s concept of flesh which represents the continuity between a perceiving body and the perceived world.

While moving in space, the body is able to incorporate direct spatial relations and make dynamic and constantly-in-movement synthesis. Models of posture are consequentially projected onto changing spatial situations by the body whose position in space is constantly updated in order to interact with the environment. The communication between the body and the world takes place through a praktognosia, a practical and direct knowledge of the world. The body’s posture is also predictive because it assumes multiple or possible tasks and acts in an oriented-space connected with an historical time. The intention of the body creates a space-time structure of here-and-now. An architectural environment convey certain spatial experiences, refines sensibility and enlarges consciousness by exploiting multiple possibilities of movement.

The perception of architectural spaces is nowadays connected with the rise of technology and virtual reality produced by computer and digital designing. In the case of computer-aided architectural design – in which the architect can manipulate visual representations – architectural spaces gain a new reality by supporting the creation of new architectural objects. In this process, the constituting elements of a building become technical networks of communicating nodes. Digital design becomes not only a way to create new objects but also supports communicative and intersubjective platforms as means of mediation between people. In the virtual context of digital architecture the body oriented space is modified and the original movement is replaced by an exploring virtual body projected by mind inside a non-Euclidean and non-orthogonal context. If architectural, urban structures are designed to experience body’s motor faculties, does digital architecture, by modifying space-time categories of the lived-body and modifying brain’s treatment of spatial perceptions, open new paths of experience?

  • Marco Cesario is a PHD candidate in Philosophy at Laboratoire GERPHAU attached to ENSA (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette, France) and to the Doctoral School of the University of Paris VIII. After having achieved a degree in philosophy at University of Napoli Federico II, Marco Cesario achieved a Master in Philosophy at Sorbonne University (Paris IV) on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. In the last years, he has been working on the connections between phenomenology and architecture (architectural elements and space, motility, philosophy of architecture). The 9th September 2009 he spoke at the international conference Flesh and Space: Intertwining Merleau-Ponty and architecture, held at Mississipi State University – School of Architecture where he presented his paper: Architecture, Dance and Time: phenomenological implications of human motility. On November 2010  he presented the paper The digital superstructure of the city at the age of global information processes“, co-written with Lena Hopsch, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden at the International conference AmberConference 2010 held at Istanbul Modern (Istanbul, Turkey). He is also a professional journalist. He worked for the major Italian press agency ANSA and collaborates as a reporter from Paris for different newspapers, reviews and magazines.  marcocesario.it    univ-paris8.academia.edu/MarcoCesario
  • Dr, Senior Lecturer Lena Hopsch is a researcher and teacher at Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Architecture in Theoretical and Applied Aesthetics. She received her Master of Fine Arts from University of Gothenburg, Sweden and her PhD in Architecture from Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Architecture, Gothenburg, Sweden. Due to her participation in several international conferences she participates in several research networks focusing on the notion of rhythm in research fields such as architecture, poetry and media. The research focuses on spatial rhythmization and the notions of body/space and time are discussed as a direct bodily experience of drive or flow. Recent article, Rhythm and Balance in Sculpture and Poetry, together with Professor Eva Lilja in, “Pluralizing Rhythm: Music, Arts, Politics”, ed. Jan Hein Hoogstad & Birgitte Stougaard, Book Series: Thamyris / Intersecting: Place, Sex, and ‘Race’. Rodopi : Amsterdam / New York 2011.

Full text (PDF) p. 383-388