Dance Research Journal


Dance, Interactive Technology, and the Device Paradigm

Eric Mullis


Dance artists often suggest that working with interactive technology can produce the experience of bi-directionality in which the performer is perceptually aware of the manner in which movement directly produces changes in the performance environment. In addition, it is suggested that the performer can also become aware of the manner in which the technologies affect the dancer's performance. Drawing on phenomenology, some have argued that experiences of bi-directionality call for a reconsideration of the manner in which the moving body interacts with technological devices. I draw on Albert Borgmann's philosophy of technology to examine this approach and argue that it overlooks important issues concerning contextuality and the nature of the technological devices that are utilized in interactive performance.


  • Interactive Technology;
  • Albert Borgmann;
  • Philosophy of Technology;
  • Device Paradigm.

Eric Mullis is an assistant professor of philosophy at Queens University of Charlotte. His research centers on the philosophy of the body, somaesthetics, and the philosophy of technology. He has recently published essays in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and in the Journal of Aesthetic Education.


  I would like to thank Melissa Word, Gretchen Alterowitz, and the anonymous referees of this journal for commenting on previous drafts of this essay. I would also like to thank Chunky Move for generously providing images of Glow. I should also say that my interest in this subject was stimulated by the Dance.Draw Project, a collaboration of the Software Information Systems Department and the Department of Dance that is housed at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.