The Performance of Cyberspace: An Exploration Into Computer-Mediated Reality


  • Gretchen Barbatsis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Gretchen Barbatsis (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is an Associate Professor of Telecommunication at Michigan State University. Her research in visual communication examines the nature and role of the electronic image from the perspectives of cultural studies and visual aesthetics.
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  • Michael Fegan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Kenneth Hansen (Cand. mag. University of Copenhagen), is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Communication at Aalborg University, Denmark. His research combines cultural studies with anthropological studies of rituals to the exploration of the nature and structure of mediated communities.
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  • Kenneth Hansen

    Corresponding author
    1. Michael Fegan is pursuing a Ph.D. in American Studies at Michigan State University. His studies focus on the Internet as a rhetorical and cultural construct, as well as the nature of textuality in electronic mediums.
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Address: Department of Telecommunication, 409 Communication Arts Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

Address: Department of Communication, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Address: Department of American Studies, Linton Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.


This phenomenological enquiry into cyberspace examines the concept of space and metaphor, explaining ‘cyber'space as a figurative term and a figurative space, as something projected as a shared mental concept. Reception theory is used to theorize this figurative space as an ideational object constituted by a ‘text-reader’ relationship. The performance of ‘cyber'space is described as a self-reflexive ideation about meaning making itself, and examined as discursive, liminal, and transformative. Examination includes examples from e-mail, chat, and 3D conference systems.