Hyperexperientiality as a research agenda of the future

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Hyperexperientiality (Hougaard, 2018) is a general term for transformed (enhanced and extra-ordinary) perception and experience facilitated by technology, art, architecture and other human creations. Hyperexperiential artefacts is nothing new (see e.g. Ihde 2002). They may be argued to go back to ancient and even prehistoric forms of art and architecture (see e.g. Cheyne, Messchino and Smilek, 2009; Ramachandran and Hirstein, 1999). However, electronic and digital media have radically changed our daily experiences of the surrounding world and the unfolding life we are a part of with their specific affordances and the massive societal mediatization (see e.g. Hjarvard, 2008) and ubiquitous mediation following in their wake. In this talk I present hyperexperientiality as a research agenda that gets to the heart of the arts and humanities, makes interdisciplinary connections across the broad field and opens an evolutionary scope from the prehistorical past to the technological present and future. Moreover, I argue that hyperexperientiality presents itself as a productive perspective in the general effort to establish the cognitive sciences as central to the arts and humanities and to establish the arts and humanities as crucial to the effort of grasping the technological world we are entering. To illustrate these claims I briefly present three cases of hyperexperientiality in three different domains of human perception: 1) interpersonal, visual communication, 2) modern architecture in connection to nature and cultural heritage and 3) camera techniques. (1) specifically concerns the way in which young people skillfully use Snapchat to extend and elaborate intercorporeality (Merleau-Ponty, 1964) in the creation of ‘hyperembodied’ and ‘extraembodied’, intersubjective perceptions. (2) specifically concerns the way in which contemporary architecture facilitates ‘hyperembodied’ experiences of nature and cultural heritage. And (3) specifically analyses the “mind-reading-zoom” as one powerful technique of involved spectatorship in movies, sports coverage and documentaries. For each case I a) specify embodied mechanisms of perception which are involved in the different types of hyperexperiential effects that are created, b) propose socio-cognitive skills (see e.g. Tomasello, 2006 and Jeong and Lee, 2017) and perceptual acts that the embodied interaction with and through technology and architecture taps into, c) consider historical or evolutionary precursors and d) suggest potential effects, both local and long-term. As already indicated, tapping into and enhancing corporeal experience is an old feature of art, architecture and technology. However, the tentative, grand claim that I wish to offer is that with technological development and the introduction of electronic and digital media a hyperexperiential evolutionary leap has occurred over the last century whereby an unprecedented ‘reawakening’ and ‘reconstruction’ of human perception and corporeality (see e.g. Benjamin 1969) has taken place the presence and effects of which can be traced all over the areas of human life covered by the arts and humanities. Thus a crossdisciplinary, cognitive science-based arts and humanities research effort is called upon to catch up with the perceptual spectacle of our times where hyperexperiential technology interacts with, mediates and builds on established practices and artefacts, and as the development of technology seems only to aim at yet more intensive forms of perceptual transformation. References Benjamin, Walter. 1969(1935). “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility.” In: Arendt, Hannah (ed.), Illuminations, (trans. Harry Zohn). New York: Schocken Books. Cheyne, J.A., L. Meschino and D. Smilek. 2009. “Caricature and Contrast in the Upper Palaeolithic: morphometric evidence from cave art.” Perception. 38(1): 100-108. Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. “The Mediatization of Society A Theory of the Media as Agents of Social and Cultural Change.” Nordicom Review 29/ 2, pp. 105-134. Hougaard, A. 2018. “World at Your Phone: How 'Snappers' Embody the Digital World.” Rask 47. University Press of Southern Denmark, pp. 109-134. Ihde, Don. 2002. Bodies in Technology. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. Jeong, David C. and James Lee. 2017. “Snap back to reality: Examining the cognitive mechanisms underlying Snapchat.” Computers in Human Behavior 77, pp. 274-281. Merleau-Ponty M. 1964 (Original work published 1951). “The child’s relations with others.” In Cobb W., translator. (Trans.), The primacy of perception. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, Pp. 96–155 Ramachandran, Vilayanur & Hirstein, William. 1999. “The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consciousness Studies. 6. 15-51. Tomasello, Michael, 2006.”Social-Cognitive Basis of Language Development.” Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics (2nd ed.), pp. 459-462
Original languageEnglish
Publication date15. May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15. May 2020
EventCognitive Futures in the Arts and the Humanities - Osnabrück University, Osnabrück, Germany
Duration: 15. May 202017. May 2020


ConferenceCognitive Futures in the Arts and the Humanities
LocationOsnabrück University
Internet address

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