America 2.0: Cyber Culture, the Avatar, and Embodiment


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America 2.0: Cyber Culture, the Avatar, and Embodiment

  1. 1. America 2.0Cyber Culture, the Avatar, and EmbodimentGregory C. Carrow-BoydThe Pennsylvania State University–HarrisburgSpring 2012
  2. 2. Basic Definition of the Avatar
  3. 3. Significance to FieldPopular culture defined as cultural studies has its rootsin adult education (Wright & Sandlin, 2009). Moreover,because “adults learn from the practice of culturalconsumption in their everyday lives” (Wright & Sandlin,2009) a better understanding of one element in thisprocess can assist adult educators with integrating theeveryday learning experiences of adults and classroomlearning. Study of the avatar offers new understandingsof adult development and learning.
  4. 4. Significance to SocietyPopular culture is a site of struggle whereopportunities for learning, social change, andconsumerism meet (Wright & Sandlin, 2009).“Individual […] identities […] are filtered throughthe images, commentary, and artful editing of theforces that operate through popular culture[;]”(Wright & Sandlin, 2009) and, these reflect in theavatars adults create. Study of the avatar offersnew views on social change.
  5. 5. Research Design Purpose Research Questions What is the nature of theTo understand if 1. avatar?how, when, and 2. What is the relationshipwhy the Americans between the avatar and Merleau-Ponty’saccess the cyber explanations of embodiment?world through useof the avatar is an 3. What does the avatar tell us about adult identityembodied process. development and learning?
  6. 6. Research DesignPhilosophical Framework Methodology Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964) The sole selection criterion for this study is explores the concept of the the explicit use of the term “avatar” in the specular image, the image of self storyline or marketing of the media that exists in a mirror rather than representation. I will look for the following that of a photo. Children in each of the media representations of understand the mirrored image avatars: as a way of existing in two   spaces at once; whereas, adults balance this duality by defining 1. A definition of avatar (stated or implied) only one of the images as real 2. How one uses the avatar (i.e., is it a tool for (Merleau-Ponty, 1964). Utilizing accessing the virtual world?) Merleau-Ponty’s (1964) position, 3. How one learns from/with/through the I will analyze several avatar manifestations of avatars in movies, television and video gaming.
  7. 7. Definitions of the Avatar James Cameron’s Avatar “I see you through your eyes.”
  8. 8. Definitions of the Avatar M. Night Shyamalan’sNickolodeon’s Avatar Avatar Balance of All Natural Forces Spiritual Figurehead
  9. 9. Initial Findings1. While the body of an avatar can exist both in the earthly and cyber worlds, this body can only occupy one of these worlds at a time (DiMartino & Konietzko, 2008; Landau & Cameron, 2009; Marshall & Shyamalan, 2010; Moore, Eick, Espenson, & Murphy, 2010).2. Avatars have a consciousness (i.e., they think) also restricted to the body in use, even when sharing this consciousness (DiMartino & Konietzko, 2008; Landau & Cameron, 2009; Marshall & Shyamalan, 2010; Moore et al., 2010).3. There is often a spiritual nature to the avatar (DiMartino & Konietzko, 2008; Landau & Cameron, 2009; Marshall & Shyamalan, 2010).
  10. 10. Final Thoughts on the AvatarThe avatar as a form of the specular image allows adults to expand earthlyconsciousness into the cyber world. Although, initial findings indicate that theavatar is important not only for understanding adult identity development, butalso meaning making processes in adult learning, analysis was restricted tomovies and television broadcasts. Future research must account for thenature of the avatar in video gaming to gain a clearer picture of its impact onadult learning and social change. Questions?
  11. 11. ReferencesAdrian, Angel. (2008). No one knows you are a dog: Identity and reputation in virtual worlds. Computer Law & Security Report, 24(4), 366-374. doi:10.1016/j.clsr.2008.03.005Adrian, Angela. (2007). ITM: Avatars as trade marks. Computer Law & Security Report, 23(5), 436-448. doi:10.1016/j.clsr.2007.07.002DiMartino, M. D., & Konietzko, B. (Executive producers). (2008). Avatar: The last airbender [Television series]. USA: Nickelodeon Animation Studios.Landau, J. (Producer), & Cameron, J. (Director). (2009). Avatar [Motion picture]. USA: 20th Century Fox.Marshall, F. (Producer), & Shaymalan, M. N. (Director). (2010). The last airbender [Motion picture]. USA: Nickelodeon Movies.Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964). The Child’s Relation with Others. In J. M. Edie (Ed.), The primacy of perception: And other essays on phenomenological psychology, the philosophy of art, history and politics (pp. 96-155). Paris, France: Northwestern University Press.Moore, R. D., Eick, D., Espenson, J., & Murphy, K. (Executive producers). (2010). Caprica [Television series]. Vancouver, BC, Canada: SyFy.Wright, R. R., & Sandlin, J. A. (2009). Cult TV, hip hop, shape-shifters, and vampire slayers: A Review of the literature at the intersection of adult education and popular culture. Adult Education Quarterly, 59(2), 118-141. doi:10.1177/0741713608327368
  12. 12. Image CreditsAllMoviePhoto.Com. (2011). The last airbender photo [Photo]. Retrieved from, Edward L., II. (2010). Ang-the avatar. In Avatar: The last airbender—TV show review (all books) [Web log post]. Retrieved from airbender_15.jpgChickie66. (2011). Leona Lewis-I see you [Glogster post]. Retrieved from lewis-i-see-you/g-6mhnu4eh0iui9cmd0ji2oa0