Robot avatars and the vicarious realm

Robertson, Nicola (2022) Robot avatars and the vicarious realm. Networking Knowledge, 15 (2). ISSN 1755-9944 (

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I introduce the concept of the vicarious realm as existing between physical 'place' and virtual 'space'. Using the words of students who employ telepresent robots to attend class for them, I speculate on the role of the robot as a pliable representation of a person, and how it offers the human the opportunity to retain an embodied presence in a place (classroom) in a way that is impossible via the use of a screen. Embodiment and interaction – known as intercorporeality - is unique to the notion of 'place'; without it, we cannot lay claim to being in any place. This assertion has implications for the argument that there can be such a thing as an online 'place'. It is my intention that my paper will provide an inspirational base for future researchers to consider our relation to place as our notions of being somewhere come to be questioned.