Just an afterthought to the earlier post (of 29 September) about biomedical versus mundane personal identity in the neonatal clinic: What remains in my memory now, seven weeks later, is the strong presence of the surveillance monitor displays, especially in the night hours.

During day hours, our embodied newborn and the monitor display competed with each other for my attention. It was like sitting in an airport, trying to talk with someone while an annoying TV screen spits out news snippets, ads and sports records. The screen attracts your attention; you have to struggle to get it out of your field of vision so that you can concentrate on the conversation.

But during the night hours, the monitor took over completely. There was no way to escape. And the strong colours, moving curves and monotonous beeps become more real than the little body under the quilt. Biomedical identity trumped mundane identity.

In other words, presence effects aren’t restricted to good-old-time bodies. Under certain conditions, the represented body can give rise to much stronger presence effects. In both cases we’re talking about physical authenticity — it’s just different physical realities at play.

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