Personalising prosthetics: digital interventions in disability and dance

Sarah Whatley, Kate Marsh, Steve Benford, Feng Zhou, paul Tennant, Ian Ashcroft, Welly O'Brien, Tanja Erhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper emerges from an interdisciplinary collaboration between prosthesis-using disabled dance artists, computer scientists, dance researchers and engineers to explore the transformative potential of digital technologies to co-create aesthetically personalised prosthetics from dance movements. Beginning with the dancers performing improvised movement sequences in motion capture suits, which drove a computational design algorithm, an ‘aesthetic seed’ for each dancer was generated: a kind of personal signature from their movement. These seeds were then algorithmically mapped onto the shapes of prosthetic limb covers that could be 3D printed in a variety of materials. The paper will share some of the reflections from the dancers on how the process generated questions about agency, appropriation, ownership and the political implications of disability as a site of resistance. It will suggest some ways in which digital methods can offer disabled artists different routes towards making and sharing work, whilst foregrounding the importance of inclusion to challenge normative thinking around what ‘connection’ and ‘access’ means in the context of digital innovation
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media
Publication statusSubmitted - 20 Feb 2023


  • Dance, prosthetics, computing science, HCI, generative design, 3D printing


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