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Sensing the city from afar:
embodied, multisensory and participatory urban spaces online

Conference: Visual Methods 2017: Visualising the City
Location: Singapore Institute of Technology
Date: August 16th-18th 2017


The ability to remotely explore cities from around the world using only a web browser has been possible for some time. However, contemporary and deep-rooted platforms such as Google Street View are limited in their ability to communicate a ‘sense’ of the city through the confines of a two-dimensional display. These “mediated experiences of everyday lives” undoubtedly facilitate an “increased possibility for connections” but have the potential to create interactions in which “the affective elements of experience are lost” (Tucker and Goodings, 2014). In this paper, a new form of embodied, multisensory and participatory online space (developed by the author) will be demonstrated and evaluated. The presentation of auditory as well as visual data, the possibility for temporal as well as spatial experiences to unfold and the facilitation of interactions through which the virtual environment can become layered with human experience, all contribute to the affordances of the space. The capability of this platform to offer new ways of sensing and experiencing the city from afar will be explored, alongside its applications as a dialogic and potential space through which located knowledge can be co-created.


This conference presented the ideal opportunity for me to 'test' the methodological contributions introduced as part of this PhD at an academic event specifically focused on research methods. I adopted a fairly polemical stance, challenging the ocularcentric nature of the digital practices that are commonly adopted in attempts to gain a 'sense' of place. I was a little concerned about how well my argument would be received at a visual methods conference but the paper actually generated a lot of interest. I also chaired the panel 'Visual Methods for Urban Areas'. This was a new and rewarding experience that I intend to volunteer for again.