More selected projects

The longing of arms

With the development of technologies, people can ‘touch’ the staff which is far away from themself. Technologies have redefined the ‘human boundary’. Nishat Awan[1] indicated that:...More than ever before, we are compelled to act, to somehow feel responsible for and bear witness to what occurs at a distance from us...(312).We can know what is happening in the remote space through the modern media, especially those places which we can not get closer to.

produced by: Dongyuan Liu, Richard Moores, Ziwei Wu

Our project explores how technologies influence boundaries of the body. We were inspired by a new media performance, named ‘The Inheritance’. This work is mainly focused on measuring space-time. The artist throws us a question ‘Can new technologies help us use our heart and spirit as the unit to measure and document the space-time that we are in. We are interested in his way that include new technologies.  Also a Germany Artist, named Rebecca Horn, especially her work ‘Finger Gloves’ (1972). Horn has described how wearing these gloves altered her relationship with her surroundings. This work inspired us that we can add something onto our body to extend ourselves. All of these examples are related to the key words, human body, technologies, and body extending.


We were interested in following a thread which runs through Merleau Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception[2], namely the idea that the structuring, scale and capacities of the body shape our perception of the both the world and ourselves as subjects.

We also became aware of a tension between the phenomenological approach, that of neurology (whose research methods we were aping) and the representational cognitive models such as Dennetts[3]. We wanted to create an ‘experiment’ which blurred the lines between these areas.

Our intention was to include an objective measure of body schema using a 'body landmarks localisation task', which had been used by researchers to demonstrate that peri-personal space (and perceived arm length) could be affected by tool use[4]. According to this theory, enacted knowledge ought, from the subjects point of view, to shift the boundaries of the body.


For our work ‘The longing of arms’, we invited people to use grabber to move cubes through the phone’s camera. In addition, we change the view on the screen by zooming in and zooming out the camera, and we asked them the feeling about the strength changing of their arms.

In this video, all of 3 people feel their arms and grabbers different than the usual experience. What’s more, they have some opinions during the whole process. One people said ‘During the whole process, I think the zoom in, zoom out and the angle from the mobile phone influence me to determine the distance and influence my action.’


Although we weren’t able to reproduce the effects on body representation reported in the research we had been looking at, the camera viewpoint did seem to change the participants experience of the localisation of their arms, particularly as they were receiving inconsistent sensory feedback. We think it could be interesting to extend the ‘experiment’ with multiple camera perspectives - the hypothetical ‘third person’, the grabbers own view of the object or the operator for example.



[1]Nishat Awan (2016) Digital Narratives and Witnessing: The Ethics of Engaging with Places at a Distance, GeoHumanities, 2:2, 311-330, DOI: 10.1080/2373566X.2016.1234940

[2] Merleau-Ponty M (1945) Phénoménologie de la perception. Gallimard, Paris

[3] Dennett, D.C., 1991. Consciousness Explained, Boston: Little, Brown and Co.

[4] Tool-use reshapes the boundaries of body and peripersonal space representations

Elisa Canzoneri · Silvia Ubaldi · Valentina Rastelli ·

Alessandra Finisguerra · Michela Bassolino ·

Andrea Serino, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013