bodies-cities explores what constitutes embodied spatial knowledge in an urban setting, and how this knowledge can influence immersive virtual design spaces. The work presents the multi-sensory complexity of the human embodied mapmaking process in a layered interactive virtual reality (VR) palimpsest. A palimpsest is a space that holds multiple layers of experience. In this project the layers present the perceived uniformity of public space, knowledge of the sensing body, and the historical and translocal significance. The project takes the urban site of St James Town West in downtown Toronto for its exploration. The research is an entanglement of people, places, methodology, and methods that reflect the complex nature of embodied spatial knowledge. This entanglement is examined and presented through the application of Karen Barad’s feminist new materialist theory on the performative nature of being in the world, and through the apparatuses of sensory ethnography and virtual reality. The virtual reality experience draws on the interactive affordances of VR to present the entanglements that take place between the sensing body and the urban environment.
Manik Gunatilleke is a designer and artist working with emerging technology for immersive spatial design. With an interest in exploring the manifestation of posthuman experiences, her current work explores immersive virtual space and urban architecture.