The Kinematic Subject

The Vehicular Experience of Speed and Automobility in Virtuality/Reality


Kinaesthesia is a difficult term to define clearly. Some sources identify it as a form of proprioception, localised within the body (Gandevia, 1996), while other sources include the definition of the perceptual movement of external space (Wikipedia, 2005). For clarity, the easiest way to then differentiate proprioception with kinaesthesia is to categorise one as an interoceptive phenomenon, and the other as an exteroceptive phenomenon. As proprioception is most commonly described as the sensation of spatial movement of and within the body (interoceptive; the ‘muscle sense’), this project defines kinaesthesia to be the sensation of spatial movement exterior to the body, signifying the perceptual movement through external space.

The term kinaesthesia signifies both a relationship between kinematics, the movement of objects, and aesthetics, how something looks or is perceived. Thus there is a direct relationship between kinaesthesia and dromoscopy. In the experience of speed, kinaesthesia is the aesthetic result of dromoscopy.

Kinaesthesia provides spatial information to the subject (Gandevia, 1996: 160). This signifies that kinaesthesia is able to be experienced through any of the primary senses – visual, aural, tactile, olfactory and gustatory.

As these are all involved with the external environment, a broader definition of kinaesthesia can be said to be the perception of a constant frequency of stimuli; with stimuli being in the form of moving objects, landscapes, information, and aporia.

The element of speed and movement ensures a steady stream of stimuli to be perceived. Stimuli come from two sources: the vehicular environment and the extravehicular environment. The vehicular stimuli includes the information regarding the state of the vehicle (usually mediated through the dashboard and controls), the interoceptive communication to other passengers, and interior entertainment (eg a radio or other media).

These partially block out the extravehicular stimuli due to being positioned locally. The extravehicular stimuli is generally perceived directly through or buffered through the vehicle (eg through the windscreen, g-forces in the seat, and the feedback from the controls).