This thesis is aimed at investigating virtual embodiment and how it can affect a performer's experience of; and relationship to the physical body. With this auto ethnographic case study I hope to shed some light on the  ways virtual reality technology enables critical experiences and what effects these experiences could have, through my own personal journey. The study was conducted in the setting of  my home using a Pico 4 VR head mounted display and HTC vive full body tracking. The project used for the case study was an audiovisual pole dance performance that was performed on the platform Neos VR and streamed to Studio 44 in Stockholm. The research is rooted in the artistic field but draws knowledge from psychological and social research on VR as a cognitive and embodied technology. The research methods used to gather and analyse the research material were visual research, phenomenology and deep listening. The data collection consisted of visual and text based data. On the visual data I applied thematic analysis, coding and categorising of the text based data and analysing hyper reflections with a phenomenological approach. I found that the experience of virtual embodiment did change my relationship to my own body in a positive way by feeling more grounded and accepting. I was less anxious about performing and felt more confident in myself. Because of the entanglement of the study it was not possible to solely contribute the outcomes of the effect to virtual avatar embodiment in itself. It did however demonstrate how these VR technologies could be used to enable norm critical experiences by the use of norm critical design applied to avatars challenging beauty ideals and societal norms of performativity. My virtual embodiment and its effects on me can give a unique insight that would benefit developers and users active in these platforms as well as for personal introspection and self development. The study serves as a good base to build future research on and I intend to further elaborate on the extensive research data that was gathered.




Marie Dahlén (all pronouns) [Genderfluid] aka. AMUSED, nationality:SWED born:1989 AudioVisualGeneralist
Background: 3D artist at gamestudio 5 yrs. Education in Sound Art, Sound Technology and Music Production, Novel Writing, Computer Graphics Design, BA Audiovisual Production, MA Performing Arts. 

//CO-Founder of 10 Percent Human Collective//Member of R00t’s CLUB//