Recent evolutions in the contemporary iconoscape have enabled the production of pictures that elicit in the perceiver a strong feeling of being there”, namely of being incorporated into new and autonomous environments. Subjects relating to such environments are no longer visual observers in front of images isolated from the real world by a framing device; they are experiencers living in quasi-worlds that offer multisensory stimuli and allow interactive sensorimotor affordances.
In relation to such quasi-worlds, a key role is played by the avatar, a digital proxy through which subjects interact with synthetic objects or other avatars. Rooted in the ancient Hinduist tradition and often associated in the Western culture with notions such as the double and the Doppelgänger, the term avatar mostly owes its fortune today to its massive employment in digital communication (e.g. video games, chat-rooms, social networks, virtual environments). The crucial feature of the avatar experience is the possibility to interact with the digital system and to be recognized by it, thus enhancing a two-way movement from the real world into the virtual ones and vice versa.