Personalising prosthetics: digital interventions in disability and dance

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media
Early online date5 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


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


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