Immersive Participation
: Futuring, Training Simulation and Dance and Virtual Reality

  • Sarah Neville

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Dance knowledge can inform the development of scenario design in immersive digital simulation environments by strengthening a participant’s capacity to learn through the body. This study engages with processes of participatory practice that question how the transmission and transfer of dance knowledge/embodied knowledge in immersive digital environments is activated and applied in new contexts. These questions are relevant in both arts and industry and have the potential to add value and knowledge through crossdisciplinary collaboration and exchange. This thesis consists of three different research projects all focused on observation, participation, and interviews with experts on embodiment in digital simulation. The projects were chosen to provide a range of perspectives across dance, industry and futures studies. Theories of embodied cognition, in particular the notions of the extended body, distributed cognition, enactment and mindfulness, offer critical lenses through which to explore the relationship of embodied integration and participation within immersive digital environments. These areas of inquiry lead to the consideration of how language from the field of computer science can assist in describing somatic experience in digital worlds through a discussion of the emerging concepts of mindfulness, wayfinding, guided movement and digital kinship. These terms serve as an example of how the mutability of language became part of the process as terms applied in disparate disciplines were understood within varying contexts. The analytic tools focus on applying a posthuman view, speculation through a futures ethnography, and a cognitive ethnographical approach to my research project. These approaches allowed me to examine an ecology of practices in order to identify methods and processes that can facilitate the transmission and transfer of embodied knowledge within a community of practice. The ecological components include dance, healthcare, transport, education and human/computer interaction. These fields drove the data collection from a range of sources including academic papers, texts, specialists’ reports, scientific papers, interviews and conversations with experts and artists.The aim of my research is to contribute both a theoretical and a speculative understanding of processes, as well as tools applicable in the transmission of embodied knowledge in virtual dance and arts environments as well as digital simulation across industry. Processes were understood theoretically through established studies in embodied cognition applied to workbased training, reinterpreted through my own movement study. Futures methodologies paved the way for speculative processes and analysis. Tools to choreograph scenario design in immersive digital environments were identified through the recognition of cross purpose language such as mindfulness, wayfinding, guided movement and digital kinship. Put together, the major contribution of this research is a greater understanding of the value of dance knowledge applied to simulation developed through theoretical and transformational processes and creative tools.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • Deakin University
SupervisorJondi Keane (Supervisor) & Scott Delahunta (Supervisor)

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