The Distances of Presence: What Does It Mean to Be Online and Offline with Others?


  • Peppe Cavallari Université de Technologie de Compiègne, Département Technologie et Sciences de l’homme



distance, online, presence, chat, digital space


The experience of confinement and the current distancing measures keep showing up the paradoxes of distance, its constraints and its resources. Social distancing mobilises a number of technological, physical and semiotic mediations. In this way social distancing makes us see how presence is constructed, thus revealing the paradox that presence is only the effect of the organisation of several distances. Presence is always an effect of distance. Presence is the effect of differences, mediations, distances, which as a whole constitute what I call ‘play’ (or jeu), in the French sense of the word il y a du jeu, or the notion of play in terms of having slack or space to play with, meaning that there is a gap, an interstice, a delay. In order to have presence, you have to be able to create the conditions for this being ‘in between’, and this is exactly what the social uses of digital technology do. There is play, and presence consists in the harmonisation –always laborious and never finished– of these spatio-temporal disjunctions.




How to Cite

Cavallari, P. (2020). The Distances of Presence: What Does It Mean to Be Online and Offline with Others?. Img Journal, 2(3), 118–135.