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Thresholds III – “Avatar”

Recent evolutions in the contemporary iconoscape have enabled the production of pictures that elicit in the perceiver a strong feeling of “being there”, namely of being incorporated into new and autonomous environments. Subjects relating to such environments are no longer visual observers in front of images isolated from the real world by a framing device; they are experiencers living in quasi-worlds that offer multisensory stimuli and allow interactive sensorimotor affordances. In relation to such quasi-worlds, a key role is played by the avatar, a digital proxy through which subjects interact with synthetic objects or other avatars. The notion and the uses of the avatar are becoming crucial in a variety of disciplines, ranging from philosophy to visual culture studies, anthropology, sociology, cognitive psychology, and neurosciences. Also, they are raising relevant issues in the fields of ethics and politics.