Julia Rommel

Ubiquity – constituting space in the context of information and communications technologie


Ubiquity is a kind of vision in practice, at once a concept and something which we live by in everyday life. A capacity for being in several places at the same time has positive connotations in our society, corresponding as it does to the ideal of a mobile, flexible and globally networked individual.

In the context of Euclidean space, so firmly anchored in the culture of our society, ubiquity appears an unattainable utopia as it presupposes a corresponding distribution of our bodies over several locations. To us humans, ubiquity would appear, in line with the theological origin of the term, an exclusively divine attribute. Nevertheless, presence, which cannot solely be defined by location, is practiced in everyday actions by transcending Euclidean space through our use of information and communications technologies, for example, when we see or hear another person located beyond the kind of distance covered by direct sensory perception. 

When we contrast these two positions the question that arises is one of arrangement: What is it that is moving – the individual in space or the space around the individual? In order to allow for a discussion of this nature, a shift is required from the idea of absolute space to one of a relational kind. This makes it possible to focus on the presence of the individual who informs the description of a space. When we use technologies the result is different, often ambiguous qualities of presence. My objective is to investigate this nascent potential presence on the basis of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of body and his idea of differentiating between the body as a thing and the body as a functioning organism. Moreover, analyzing various forms of presence requires a precise investigation of the relationship between the individual and technology.

Within the framework of the tension between the logic of power and that of desire displayed by the media, ubiquity assumes the dimensions of a kind of vision in practice of concepts initiated by technology itself and those ways of acting by which the individual lives. Ambiguous presence is the result of using technology in a manner that has become routine, whereby we integrate technology into our self-perception without any concrete reflections on the subject.

On the basis of technology protocols (the documentation of personal experience of situations using different technologies), the principal aim of this dissertation is to analyze the transformation of this changed self-perception with a reference to space and the way that people communicating perceive one another. I also wish to highlight the consequences of this as the development of a cultural technology, a notion of space derived from self-perception and forms of social behavior that are established within this kind of space.


Prof. Marc Ries

Julia rommel