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Homo Sensus and the Semiosphere

blog by Judith van der Elst – 21 October 2015
Judith van der Elst, een van onze workshopdocenten tijdens Homo Technicus, schrijft een gastblog.

I am an anthropologist specialized in spatial technologies, digital heritage, and spatial thinking. During the last few years however, I have immersed myself in a different worlds, where Blackberry and Apple-watch mean something other than electronic extensions of our bodies to manage our time. Although I am still focused professionally on the use and design of technologies, the change of pace in the rural regions of the world has been pleasant, leading to new ideas about space, place and human spatial experience.

Clock time is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Even though the bell tower, and other devices to keep track of time have been around for ages, it was not until the Industrial Revolution that our lives became dominated by a mathematical, mechanical system in service of non-stop production instead of biological, circadian patterns. How do our bodies respond to this? Are we adapting or even genetically modifying to these new spaces we create?

Together with Jonathan Reus, I will lead a workshop during the coming Studium Generale, entitled Homo Sensus and the Semiosphere, which is taking these questions seriously for the future of design. The semiosphere can be thought of as the interaction of sensory and perceptual worlds of different species, in which each has access to a specific set of multimodal signals for navigating and surviving in the world. Sometimes these worlds collide, and Homo Technicus may introduce all sorts of new signals that can cause interference, scrambling and random noise. Homo Sensus emerges from the changing times, as bodies in space, space in flow. Enjoy the ride.