Arife Dila Demir „Extended (Textile) Soma: Somaesthetics of Bodily Discomforts“ (Dissertationes 40)

Human existence in the world is corporeal; we live and exist in the world through our moving and perceiving bodies – our somas. Our somas continuously perceive internal and external stimuli that shape our perception of our environment and ourselves. Stimuli can be both pleasant and unpleasant. For some people, internal discomfort becomes a constant defining feature of bodily existence. This doctoral thesis deals with persistent phenomena that interrupt the body’s daily life rhythm and cause discomfort, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, chronic pain, etc.

Arife Dila Demir’s practice-based doctoral thesis “Extended (Textile) Soma: Somaesthetics of Bodily Discomforts” focuses more specifically on chronic bone and muscle pain. The study recognizes the difficulties in getting rid of this phenomenon. Since an approach that goes beyond symptom relief can significantly alleviate bodily discomfort, the doctoral thesis focuses on transforming the body’s discomfort in order to find new ways of living and functioning. I call this practice the somaesthetics of bodily discomfort.

Accordingly, the main research question of this practice-based PhD thesis is: How can movement-based interactive wearable textile objects as soma-extensions be designed to develop somaesthetic awareness of chronic musculoskeletal pain, mediating and helping to explain this interaction? In other words, this doctoral thesis explores how to break habitual ways of coping with discomfort by raising somaesthetic awareness. For this purpose, soma extensions are used, which deal with the sensation of chronic pain through movement-based interaction and offer new ways to relate to pain. The main research question of the doctoral thesis is answered through three case studies that provide methodological and theoretical insights into how to design with, for and through bodily discomfort.

The collected knowledge constitutes the main contribution of the doctoral thesis and is concentrated in a design research program called “Design based on discomfort”. Using the example of three case studies, this program and doctoral thesis challenge design researchers to imagine alternative ways of coping with uncomfortable bodily experiences and offer new ways to engage more closely with such sensations.

Supervisors: Prof. Nithikul Nimkulrat (OCAD University), Dr. Kristi Kuusk (Estonian Academy of Arts)
External reviewers: Prof. Kristina Höök (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Dr. Vasiliki Tsaknaki (IT University of Copenhagen)
Opponent: Dr. Claudia Núñez-Pacheco (Umeå University)

Language editor (English): Michael Haagensen
Language editor (Estonian): Refiner Translations
Series design: Indrek Sirkel
Layout: Pärtel Eelmere

Dissertationes Academiae Artium Estoniae 40

258 pages, in English
Estonian Academy of Arts, 2023

ISBN 978-9916-619-93-3 (print)
ISBN 978-9916-619-94-0 (pdf)
ISSN 1736-2261

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Posted by Neeme Lopp