Through my exploration of sex and sexuality online during my early research, and attempt to briefly define these concepts during my presentation on sex in cyberspace, I have arrived at this research question:
How does the virtual experience transform our conceptualisation of sex, sexuality and sexual interaction?
While this is a very broad area of study which could possibly inform an honours thesis or several research articles, it’s the most concise way to query what most of my research has been pointing towards while leaving myself open to further study if I do want to take it further than this semester. But where to start?
In my last post I detailed how Iris Bull‘s thesis ‘Foreclosing Possibility in Virtual Worlds: An Exploration of Language, Space, and Bodies in the Simulation of Gender and Minecraft’ (2014) informed my analysis of sexual exploration in virtual spaces. Her work on gender and virtual worlds was really informative in my exploration of cyberspace, however it was the structure of her thesis which really gave me what I needed: a research framework which could help me define the other areas of sexual exploration online.
Through the lens of the three pillars of her thesis i.e. ‘Language, Space, and Body’, I can narrow down how my research might work to answer the above research question in a more effective way, especially if I choose just one of these interrelated areas to focus on. Based on my established research on ‘space’ e.g. blogs, social networks, forums, virtual reality, virtual worlds, I will extend my understanding of ‘space’ to include a discussion of how sex and sexuality is transformed by digital space, how objects and subjects of cyber-worlds transform these spaces, and how these spaces more adequately accomodate for paraphilic behaviours.
My digital artefact will take the shape of a virtual map of the cyberspaces which are helping people transform sex and sexuality in order to reflect the concept of non-physical ‘space’. I believe that the best spacial presentation medium for this kind of research would be a Prezi, as I can use the Zooming User Interface as a way to illustrate ‘space’. However I will still keep looking for different ways to share my ideas.