Fundamentals of Immersion

May 06

Annotated Bibliography

Comment, Bernard. The Panorama. Reaktion Books, 1999. pp. 1-27

  • Crowd-pleasing, lowbrow entertainment – a “motley crowd in search of wanton, enigmatic  and rarely denied pleasure”
  • Patented by Robert Barker 1787
  • means “to see all”
  • “so true to life that they could be confused with reality”
  • Viewers walk through a dark corridor and staircase before entering
  • paradox: enclosed area representing a space “free of all worldly restrictions”
  • Context: industrial revolution + first metropolises. People wanted to control & escape from collective space + mass culture
  • First subjects were the towns in which they were exhibited
  • Panorama became a propaganda machine, showing battles & historical events
  • Travel to distant lands & historic sites
  • Painted in conjunction with camera obscura and early photography to ensure accuracy
  • very heavy painted canvas, vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature
  • Multiple painters required which caused workflow + quality problems
  • No panoramas after 1861

Holmes, Oliver Wendell. “The Stereoscope and the Stereograph.” The Atlantic, June 1859, pp. 1–8. Accessed from

  • A comparison to “film” as an organic material – say, in the eye of an animal – is made to “film” as it applies to photography
  • Written in response to the daguerreotype and photograph (Daguerreotypes made publically available in 1839, photographs made it obsolete in the 1860s)
  • modern inventions are given a mythical import, compared to the magical artefacts of an Arabian Nights story
  • A layperson’s explanation of how daguerreotype and photograph are created
  • Stereoscope: invented by Wheatstone in 1838, contemporaneous with Daguerre’s invention
  • “A stereoscope is an instrument which makes surfaces look solid. …by this instrument the effect is so heightened as to produce an appearance of reality which cheats the senses with its seeming truth”
  • Description of the laws of perspective in such detail that it’s almost laughable – to us “things look flat with one eye closed” is something we learn as little children
  • “we see something with the second eye which we did not see with the first… the two eyes see different pictures of the same thing”
  • the brain works with the eyes to produce an image. If they are not in concert (damaged, moved, drunk) the image will be distorted
  • An artist could not make a stereoscope, but a photograph can
  • Simply take a picture, move the camera “the distance between the human eyes” and take another – or “better yet” take two pictures in a double camera
  • How do we “slide them together?” squint, or build glasses that “squint for us”
  • “a frightful amount of detail” upon looking through a stereoscope (device) at a stereograph (dual-image print)
  • Holmes argues that we can see more details and inferences in a stereoscope, as there is a suggestion of motion and intention in the difference between the two images
  • Holmes offers suggestions of how to best consume stereographs, with tips like “beware of investing largely in groups” and avoid high-detail images of people as they may be flawed and are of less interest than architectural views
  • “Form is henceforth divorced from matter” <- very resonant in the digital world, especially with a mind to VR

Prince, Stephen. “Through the Looking Glass: Philosophical Toys and Digital Visual Effects.” Projections, vol. 4, no. 2, 2010, pp. 19–40., doi:10.3167/proj.2010.040203.

  • Argues that the meeting of art and science have been and continue to be necessary for advancement of cinema.
  • cinema-centric but details the Camera Obscura and other pre-cinema visual spectacles.
  • intense collaboration with scientists allows for the development of convincing special effects in film
  • “Perceptual Realism” is the replication via digital means of contextual clues designating a 3d world
  • It is a major goal of VFX artists
  • Visual effects = spectacle. Spectacle is anti-narrative
  • vision is culturally coded and therefore relative to social formations in a given period
  • Early films emphasized spectacular views – attractions – rather than stories
  • Function ruled cinema until 1907 when narrative became dominant
  • Techniques and instruments originating in cinema are now used by scientists
  • Camera Obscura – known in the 11th century to Ibn al-Haytham
  • This + the zoetrope/phenakistoscope/thaumatrope were “philosophical toys” – both scientific investigation and popular amusement
  • stereoscope – first exploration into binocular vision
  • pseudoscope – played with the stereoscope to induce visions of impossible geometry – inspired computer scientists who would simulate the phenomenal world

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