Fundamentals of Immersion

Annotated BibliographyArchive

Jul 09

Pohjola, Mike (2004): “Autonomous Identities: Immersion as a Tool for Exploring, Empowering and Emancipating Identities” in Montola & Stenros (ed.)  Beyond Role and Play: tools, toys and theory for harnessing imagination

  • New key words: immediated/immediacy/immediate art; diegetic frame; inter-immersion; Temporary Autonomous Zone & Temporary Autonomous Identity”
  • Inter-immersion will be a key concept for developing the community space inherent in immersive interactions
  • New definition of immersion: “being in character or becoming the character”
  • “Immersion is the player assuming the identity of the character by pretending to believe her identity only consists of the diegetic roles” 
  • An examination of the nordic-style school of LARPing. I’m less interested in the roleplay aspect and more interested in the notion that immersion can serve some purpose in and of itself. This paper covers the exploration of personal identity through immersive techniques, the factors that make roleplaying/immersion a unique art form, and the potential for developing spaces of temporary reality that allow for us to take on temporary identities
  • Name checks the Turku school of immersion that is trying to achieve “character immersion”
    • considered impossible by the author – “based on faulty premise of character that originates with traditional fiction and cannot be applied to immersive, immediated artforms like roleplaying”
  • “This essay is written partly as an attempt to update and post-modernise the ideas of the Manifesto of the Turku School (Pohjola 1999), specifically those concerning character and immersion.”
  • “the internal processes and interpretations of the player are for the game as a whole until they are expressed and become part of the diegetic frame. Before that they are merely “individual narrative readings”
  • Stuart Hall (1996) beleives that seeing self as narrative is the essential part of identity creation
    • Turku manifesto saw this the opposite way: character identiy can be created by seeing the narrative as the self
  • J Thomas Harvianinen: Three kinds of immersion: Character Immersion, Reality Immersion, Narrative Immersion
  •  Impossible to roleplay alone. Roleplaying should include interactivity
    • It follows that immersion requires interactivity
  • Roleplaying games are experienced as they are created – a unique feature of them
    • could also apply to immersivity
  • media is generally divided into three loose categories: passive, active and interactive
    • passive are recorded and cannot be affected (like film, literature, recorded music)
    • active has possibility of interaction, such as karaoke
    • interactive requires participation, such as computer game, hypertext
      • fourth “transcendent” category is immediate art, “experienced as it is created and has no use for the division between performers and audience”. Examples include roleplaying games burt also parties, communal storytelling or improvised musical jams
    • “An outside audience cannot understand a role-playing game, although it can seem like an interesting performance. Role-playing games take place in the present moment and are transmitted directly from person to person. This makes them immediate”
  • “immersion without action is daydreaming”
  • roleplaying is not necessarily an interactive act
  • the character must exist within a diegetic frame
  • Inter-immersion: the collective experience of immersion shared and strengthened through interaction
    • strengthens the identity of the character rather than the player
    • staying in character helps to stay in character
    • “as the player reaches the inter-immersive state she starts to forget she is just pretending to believe it is all real. She acts as if she really believes the diegesis, and when everybody else does the same and reacts to each other’s beliefs (instead of the pretensions), they forget they are just pretending and start to really believe.”
  • “There is a pattern, and a very clear one when you know where to look. Each new generation of games is less abstract. Where Go is about capturing and re-capturing land, Chess is about a war between two nations, Chainmail is about commanding armies in battle and Dungeons & Dragons is about directing a singular adventurer in a dungeon, modern role-playing games are about acting as any individuals in any setting”
  • Perceiving a game as having a reality is difficult when the game is abstracted (like Chess)
    • as games get more complex and less abstract gaming reality is stronger & more fulfilling.
    • “The next logical step is to lose the barrier separating games and reality once and for all.”
  • Pretend belief moves toward real belief and subjective diegesis becomes subjective reality, temporarily. In RPGs the diegesis is temporarily the player’s identity.
  • Temporary Autonomous Zones can be created to invite players to take on a Temporary Autonomous Identity (TAI).
    • If we can constantly carry a TAI with us, we can always be in a roleplay.
Jun 28

Waysdorf, Abby, and Stijn Reijnders. “Immersion, Authenticity and the Theme Park as Social Space: Experiencing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 21, no. 2, 2016, pp. 173–188., doi:10.1177/1367877916674751

  • The functioning of a park like Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWOHP) is reliant on sensory detail as well as the inherited communitas of fans who feel like the space was prepared for them. It invites embodiment within the fiction and encourages engagement with the existing communitas of the HP fandom. It is perhaps designed to be the ultimate expression of fandom – the place that is as close as possible to habitation inside the fiction, designed to be experienced in a way as honest as possible to the way it would be engaged with were it “real” – as a place where you can not stay forever, but merely visit as a tourist.
  • New key terms: Habitus, Ironic Imagination
  • Returning key terms: simulation, communitas
  • a new definition of immersion: immersive because it feels inhabitable – as detailed as the real world and shared with others as an imaginary habitus
  • emblematic of a trend in the industry toward environments promising immersion into a favourite text
  • Limited understanding of why theme parks appeal to people, as most of the theory has focused on form and simulation
  • Paper is a visitor-centered work
  • small research base – only 15 interviews
  • Ironic Imagination (Saler)
  • Visitors can explore the storyworld in an embodied manner
  • Eco: “Disneyland tells us that technology can give us more reality than nature can
    • In choosing Disney over actual locations “the tourist has preferred the simulation to the reality” (Sorkin)
  • Success of the theme park points to the postmodern preference for simulation, safety and entertainment over the “real” experience of landscapes and environments
    • “a special place full of communitas not found anywhere in the mundane, consumerist habitus” (Aden)
  • Cult Geography: “fan attachment to non-commodified space, or… to space/place which has been indirectly or unintentionally constructed” (Hills)
    • eg tour of X-Files filming locations in Vancouver – constructed through fans meaning-making process rather than the media or tourist industry
  • Most critiques of theme parks is that they are inauthentic
  • Lukas: a themed environment becomes authentic when it “is sensory available”
    • That is, those visiting know it is a simulation but it becomes authentic when it feels correct on all sensory levels
  • Fantasies, mythologies and cultural icons can be enacted and played with
  • The visitor is encouraged the engage with the fictionality of the theme, and to imagine on a body level
  • This is the same kind of performance asked for and required for Total Immersion as suggested by Machon
  • Immersion, for this article: “The feeling, through the medium, that the audience member is part of the artistic or narrative world”
  • Saler: Virtual worlds: “acknowledged imaginary spaces that are communally inhabited for prolonged periods of time by rational individuals”
    • A storyworld becomes virtual when it is adopted and discussed by many individuals who group together in order to fill its details and make it more real
  • Becomes immersive because it feels inhabitable – as detailed as the real world and shared with others as an imaginary habitus
  • Embodiment (Crouch) : “A process of experiencing, making sense, knowing through practice as a sensual human subject in the world”
  • Ironic Imagination: A “double-consciousness” that allows the subject to be emotionally invested in and contemplative about a fictional world while maintaining knowledge that it is fictional.
  • There is no more “real” version so the simulation suffices as the closest thing to actual experience
  • diegetic expansions: products that are, or could be, from the series
    • “Like you are vacationing in Diagon Alley”
  • In WWOHP there is a sense of communitas inherent in arriving with a shared experience and camaraderie coming from Harry Potter. For example, recognizing another park-goer as being from the same HP House as yourself and using that to strike up a conversation

“‘Like Walking into a Movie’: Intermedial Relations between Disney Theme Parks and Movies.” The Journal of Popular Culture 50.4 (2017): 704-22. Print.

  • Provides some insights into the cinematographic inspiration behind theme park and ride design. More importantly the article provides some language and taxonomic tools for discussing elements and techniques borrowed from other media.
  • The organization of space in Disneyland follows cinematic principles rather than architectural ones
  • Wolf and Rajewsky’s typology of intermediality.
    • distinguishes between phenomena of transmediality and intermediality
    • each of their categories can be illustrated with an example of Disney parks “borrowing” from movies
  • parks are distinct from museums in that they create self-contained worlds that are separated from the rest of the world, fusing media that have been historically and culturally viewed as distinct
    • Can thus be classified as a “hybrid” medium, “composite” medium, or “meta-medium”
  • transmediality refers to elements that are nonspecific to individual media and whose origin is unimportant. Intermedial transposition is concerned with specific artefacts that have been “translated” from one medium to another
  • Intended to provide critics with a set of conceptual and terminological tools to describe intermedial phenomena
  • In many Disney rides vehicles frame the visitors’ view like a movie camera.
    • The ride vehicles, writes Lainsbury,were designed to function like movie cameras by twisting, turning, and directing the gaze of passengers from scene to scene. Their high backs and sight-restricting sides, not to mention the metal lap bars that held guests firmly in their seats, guided the experience further by erasing from view anything that might spoil the illusion. 
    • a Transmedial phenomenon as it is also employed in photography and painting, for example
  • Remediation is the retelling of a story in a new medium – in theme parks the line between remediation and intermedial transportation can be blurred
  • “Magic Wand” principle :a corridor links the entrance to a central square, from which different themed areas radiate out like the spokes of a wheel
Jun 20

Nicholson, S. (2012, June). A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamification. Paper Presented at Games+Learning+Society 8.0, Madison, WI.

  • My hunch is that immersion need be largely self-directed (or internally motivated). The Organismic Integration Theory may be useful for helping me define my taxonomy
  • Deterding on gamification: “use of game design elements in non-game contexts”
  • can remove the internal motivation a user has for an activity, replaced with external motivation
  • suggests “pointsificiation” for adding scoring to a non-game activity
    • focuses on  goals without play
  • suggests “exploitationware” as a better description of what is going on
  • almost all forms of rewards reduce internal motivation
  • once you start giving someone a reward “you have to keep her in that reward loop forever”
  • the goal of the paper is to explore theories in user-centered gamification that is meaningful to the user and therefore does not depend upon external rewards
  • Organismic Integration Theory: a continuum of motivations based upon how much external control is integrated along with the desire to perform the activity
    • an activity is more likely to be integrated if it is meaningful to the user. If too many external controls re integrated the user can have negative feelings about engaging in the activity
  • In order to be meaningful the activity must be relevant to the user
  • by involving the user in the creation and customization of the gamification system the user can select or create meaningful game elements and goals
  • Situated Motivational Affordance: a user is motivated only when there is a match between htat aspect and the backgorund ofthe user. example: if an element of gamification in a company is tied to financial reward, the perception of this as a controlling activity is greater than if the element is tied to a badge
  • Universal Design for Learning: courses should be designed so students can demonstrate learning in a number of ways.
  • Gamification needs to allow different ways for users to achieve goals so that users can be involved in the ways most meaningful to them
  • external rewards are not user-centred

Nicholson, Scott. (2016). Ask Why: Creating a Better Player Experience Through Environmental Storytelling and Consistency in Escape Room Design. Paper presented at Meaningful Play 2016, Lansing, Michigan.

  • Nicholson is primarily concerned with narrative consistency within escape games and the associated player experience. His “Ask Why” paradigm is valuable for designers of narrative-driven experiences.
  • embed the challenges in the game along with the narrative into the environment using the concept of Narrative Architecture
  • consistent genre, setting, world, challenges make more engaged player experience
  • player is their own avatar and are thus more sensitive to inconsistencies
  • cognitive dissonance between who they are supposed to be in the game and what they are doing in it
  • game designers should start with the experience they are trying to create, then every design decision should move players closer to that experience.
    • question a decision which does not move players toward the core experience
  • Narrative Architecture (Henry Jenkins, from the theme park industry) gmae mechanisms are embedded in a larger world. players explore that world as they explore game mechanisms, the story is woven into the space the player is exploring. they are also exploring the story as they explore the mechanisms.
  • Ask Why: ask “why is this here” when looking at every element of a game space.
  • Lee Sheldon: audiences want 3 things from storytellers:
    • Take me to a place I’ve never been
    • Make me into something I could never be
    • Let me do things I could never do
  • players should have a meaningful reason for taking on a task other than “its in the room”
  • Meaningful Play: for play to be meaningful, the actions a player take have to be discernible, meaning the player understands the result of what they are doing, and integrated, meaning the actions the player takes makes a difference.
  • Meaningful challenges:
    • engage with an element of the narrative that has been presented to the player
    • interact with the world in which the player exists
    • have a direct impact on the player or other characters
  • When the world is incoherent, and immersive elements are not put into place, players can’t psychologically step into the world and imagine navigating it
  • a good puzzle is about creating frustration for the player
    • the player experiences some frustration but also provides checkpoints so the player knows they are on the right path
    • they have a clear solution
    • a puzzle with no choices is a task
    • a puzzle must balance the requirement for effort and inspiration to solve
    • Escape rooms can be categorized by technology
      • Gen 1: mostly mechanical and require human engagement and human power
      • Gen 2: more electronic sensors, mag locks, remote controls, but still human triggered
      • Gen 3: technology and computer control is integrated so the room can respond to the actions of the players without human involvement
      • Gen 4: automated clue systems, control the flow of players, change the game space based on the players needs
  • “Round Up To Fun”
    • sometimes something needs to be adjusted away from realism to make an enjoyable player experience
Jun 12
Gouveia, P. (2009). Narrative paradox and the design of alternate reality games (ARGs) and blogsIEEE Consumer Electronics Society’s Games Innovation Conference 2009 (ICE – GIC 09Proceedings. Imperial College, South Kensington, London, pp. 231-38. In http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=5293585&isnumber=5293574&tag=1
  • An exploration of games that argues that the simultaneity of narrative, combined with the growing desire of players to perform as actors in other narratives, is expanding the potential for game development. This paper is a little unfocused for my purposes but it provides links to other thinkers, such as Eskelinen and Salen & Zimmerman, whose work might be useful for my taxonomy of immersion.
  • “pervasive games”, “playable fiction”
  • Mourao: “hyperfiction”
  • Games are non-linear but each players’ actions imply linearity w/ a beginning, middle, and end
  • Torben Grodal: videogames are stories for the eyes, ears, and muscles
  • the protagonist is simultaneously and the agent of character actions
  • “it is suggested that the trick for developing a working base for interactive drama is to integrate the phenomenological aspect of first-person experiences with structural aspects from well designed, third-person stories”
  • Player has four functions (Eskelinen): interpretative, exploratory, configurative, textonic
  • the human-machine interface allows players to create their own personal experiences where they perform as actors
    • this relationship is performative
  • “the pleasures of becoming actors” is being discovered by players
  • “as game-actors they become masters of interpretive embodiment; they accept as their mission the real world incarnation of a digital design”
  • Salen & Zimmerman: every game is a simulation and a cybernetic system of control
  • implosive stories: where things happen simultaneously

Rose, Frank. The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories. W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 

Introduction through Chapter 2

  • An effective history of the origin of the ARG. Highlights some problems the ARG faces but doesn’t engage with my main question: how do you get players if you don’t have a huge budget or a valuable property to attach it to?
  • The internet is a chameleon – it can act like all media
  • it is inherently participatory
  • immersive: “you can drill down as deeply as you like about anything you care to”
  • “Deep media” eg Lost, Dr Who, Avatar – media that asks more engagement than its runtime
  • Why So Serious ARG implicated the players as accomplices with the Joker’s heist that starts the Dark Knight film.
  • nonlinear, collaborative
  • Jordan Weisman, credited with inventing the format
    • “on the net we sift through information we don’t care about like an archaeologist sifting through dirt”
  • Game The Beast for AI: Artificial Intelligence in 2001 was the first
  • unlimited players have unlimited resources, unlimited time, unlimited money – they solved everything in a day
  • attempt at subscription ARG called Majestic
  • Otaku: passion, obsession, yearning to immerse oneself in stories. the desire to experience the universe through as many different media as possible. A need to expand that universe by telling new stories within it.
Jun 04

Calleja, Gordon. In-Game: from Immersion to Incorporation. MIT Press, 2011.

  • Shortening the subjective distance between player and game environment, often yielding to the sensation of inhabiting the space represented on-screen (2)
    • presence and immersion
  • incorporation is the book’s answer to the “quandary”
  • macro-involvement is any engagement with the game outside of play
  • micro-involvement is moment-to-moment play

Chapter 1: Games Beyond Games

  • Lays out the terms and definitions of digital and non-digital games. Highly useful to me, as immersion-first experiences occupy a game-like space. Similar to Calleja’s ‘virtual game environment’, the term he lands on to encompass all games that might include sandbox spaces for sub-coded games, immersion has space for environments that engender player-driven play beyond what is necessarily intended by design.
  • Games reflect the culture and society that made them – to explore games is a recursive process
  • a board game is both a process – a set of rules – and an object – the board + pieces
  • a game is a process – processual – in that it has the potential for variation in every interaction (10)
  • example: players playing CoD, one to win, one trying to get kills in certain ways
  • virtual environments can contain games – games like Half Life 2 or GTAIV are examples

Chapter 2: Immersion

  • Immersion is tied closely to presence theory. Presence generally refers to projection of psychological habitation, and not the lived praesence of Machon and the theatre. For Calleja’s forebears immersion is the objective work of the computer/technology/environment (environment added by me – Calleja is concerned with digital games, but I believe the same taxonomy can be applied to immersive environments) while presence is the psychological experience of the player.
  • Telepresence: Marvin Minsky. Operating machinery remotely can give the sense of inhabiting the distance space
  • high fidelity does not equal presence
  • Immersion: (Slater and Wilbur) “a description of a technology that describes the extent to which the computer displays are capable of delivering an inclusive, extensive, surrounding and vivid illusion of reality to the senses of a human participant”
  • Presence: “A state of consciousness, the psychological sense of being in the virtual environment”
  • Immersion being what the technology delivers, and presence being the human reaction to immersion
  • Witmer & Singer: Immersion “a psychological state characterized by perceiving oneself to be enveloped by, included in, and interacting with an environment that provides a continuous stream of stimuli and experiences”
  • Lombard & Ditton identified six characterizations of presence in the literature. (23)
    • Their findings seem to align with Machon – immersion as absorption – perceptual and psychological immersion. Does Machon cite them?
  • For Calleja, Immersion as Absorption is the dictionary definition: “absorption in some condition, action, interest, etc” such a crossword puzzle or a game of Tetris.
  • Immersion as Transportation also occurs: the idea of being present in another place (such as playing Half Life 2)
    • These are the same terms used by Machon: Absorption vs Transportation. This clarifies the distinction.
  • Four Challenges of engaging with Immersion (page 32)

Chapter 3: The Player Involvement Model

  • Explores involvement, which is necessary for immersion. Introduces the concept of macro and micro involvement. ARGs & similar immersive experiences have the potential to explicitly gamify the macro-involvement segment: you are actively participating at a micro level even as you engage passively at the macro level.
  • involvement is prerequisite to presence or immersion
  • this chapter establishes a model of involvement before “going on to attempt a formulation of what is essentially a preconscious experiential phenomenon that combines multiple dimensions of involvement
  • micro-and-macro-involvement (37)
  • playerinvolvement
    • outer edge represents full attentional resources directed to that dimension. A move toward the center requires less attentional resources directed to that dimension. The further center the more dimensions may be simultaneously attended to.
  • types of involvement: (43)
    • kinesthetic
    • spatial
    • shared
    • narrative
    • affective
    • ludic
  • This reminds me of Octalysis, a taxonomy for examining player motivation
  • Attention (40)
    • investment of attention is required to interpret representational media
    • coordination of disparate activities requires attention
    • a prerequisite for involvement
  • Ergodic: a new result based on input. Films are non-ergodic as they will be the same regardless of how they are approached
    • ergocidity is included in active planning or patience during game time inactivity (for example, planning a move in a strategy game)
    • thus game involvement is indicated by player’s cognitive effort, which is not necessarily registered as game input
    • In immersion, is this cognitive effort constant?
  • The next few chapters analyze each form of involvement and characterise their macro and micro-phases. In the interest of time I’m going to skim them and skip to the final chapter. I’ll return to the mid-point when I need a closer examination. Especially spatial, narrative, effective, and shared, for the type of immersive communitas-work I’m envisioning.

Chapter 10: From Immersion to Incorporation

  • The incorporation theory seems geared toward the digital. It is an attempt to reconcile – and, I think, do away with – the term immersion with what is happening psychologically while playing and orienting oneself in a digital game. Incorporation seems to preclude any digital game that does not involve an avatar in a rendered world space. While much of Callejo’s analysis will be useful to me in exploring mixed reality immersion I suspect that the incorporation portion will not.
  • Lakoff and Johnson (2003) describe transference between experiential gestalts as the core of experientialist ontology
    • Perhaps then the key to unique immersive experiences is to generate experiences that defy familiar categories of experience
  • Incorporation (169)
    • metaphor to account for the sense of virtual environment habitation on two simultaneous levels
    • eg the virtual environment is incorporated in the users mind as being part of her immediate surroundings, and she herself is physically incorporated as being located at a point in the virtual environment
    • the environment is incorporated into consciousness simultaneously with the player being incorporated into the environment through the avatar
    • the game world is present to the player while the player is present to the game world
  • Incorporation is the term for immersion as transportation but includes that the player is not merely transported but also incorporates that world into their consciousness

Milgram, Paul, and Fumio Kishino. “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.” IEICE TRANS. INF. & SYST, E77-D, no. 12, 12 Dec. 1994, pp. 1321–1329., www.alice.id.tue.nl/references/milgram-kishino-1994.pdf.

  • Milgram and Kishino attempt to codify mixed reality beyond the orthogonal reality/virtual dichotomy.
  • milgrams
  • Conventionally held view of VR is one in which the participant is immersed in & able to interact with a synthetic world.
  • A series of classes for Mixed Reality Interfaces
  • immersive = egocentric
  • Sheridan proposed a measure of presence
    • there’s that word again!
    • based on the extent of sensory information, control of relation of sensors, and ability to modify the physical environment
  • Zeltzer’s AIP Cube
  • The AIP Cube (from [Zelt92]) | Download Scientific Diagram
    • The AIP cube format can perhaps be tweaked to accommodate Milgram’s taxonomy as well as Machon’s Absorption vs Transportation, while also accommodating communitas & praesence
  • “Real objects are any objects that have an actual objective existence. Virtual objects are objects that exist in essence or effect, but not formally or actually.”
  • A real object must have luminosity at the site where it is located; a virtual object has no luminosity (includes holograms and mirror images)
  • In creating a taxonomy for merging real and virtual worlds they ask “What is the extent of the illusion that the observer is present within that world?”
  • worldknowledge
  • no info/ where or what in the world  / where and what in the world / complete world
  • theothers
May 29

Annotated Bibliography

Geertz, Clifford. “Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight. Daedalus. Fall 2005, 134, 4: Research Library. pg 56

  • Largely an anthropological treatise on the Balinese. There is some exploration of cultural play and on the imperatives informing “deep” vs “shallow” play
    • “status” play is correlated to “deep” play while “money” play is correlated to shallow play
    • Does immersive play necessitate a certain amount of status, cultural cache or class? Is this why, at a glance, (and to be highly general) “blue-collar” types seem less interested or even baffled by immersivity?
    • Geertz lays out a series of facts that influence the depth of a given cockfight. This taxonomy is intriguing as a method for categorizing the depth of immersion
    • “It is a story they tell themselves about themselves”
  • Deep Play: from Bentham The Theory of Legislation.
    • play in which the stakes are so high that it is irrational to engage in it at all
    • In “genuine” deep play this is true for both parties
      • The play will net pain, collectively
    • Therefore Deep Play is immoral, says Bentham
  • Such play (to the Balinese, argues Geertz) is a symbol of moral import
  • “status gambling” is correlated to deep fights and “money gambling” is correlated to shallow fights
  • the cockfight in Bali is a dramatization of social concerns
    • expected to bet on a bird owned by kin or friends, eg
  • Social clout is correlated with the deep play cock fights
    • Balinese cock fighting is deep b/c of  the potential loss of status on the line
      • is Immersion deep play because of the removal of social safety mechanisms? The necessary excision of defense mechanisms in order to allow new experiences to take root?
    • Betting activates village and kingroup rivalries but in “play” form
    • no ones’ status really changes
    • “It is a story they tell themselves about themselves”

Konzack, Lars. “The Wunderkammer-Gesamtkunstwerk Model: A Framework for Role-Playing Game Analysis and Design.” Digra 2015, 14 May 2015.

  • Describes the Wunderkammer-Gesamtkunstwerk (Wu-Ge) Model
    • Subcreation
      • Worldbuilding
    • Ludus
      • Game mechanics and rules
    • Performance
      • RPG performed by players
    • Narrative
      • Storyline
    • Cabinet of Curiosities (Wunderkammer, “chamber of wonders”)
  • Structure based on two dichotomies:
    • Concrete vs Abstract
      • Performance & Narrative are Concrete, Ludus & Subcreation are Abstract
    • Action vs Contemplation
      • Performance and Ludus are Action, Subcreation and Narrative are Contemplation
  • A matrix of physicality/action/concretion vs abstraction/contemplation/conceptualized, similar to the direction I am exploring my study.
  • LARP compared to improv or performance theatre (Choy, Fatland, Flood, Lampo)
  • Tabletop RP is unique in that there is no external audience
    • a distinct literary/gaming tradition of their own
  • GNS Theory (Ron Edwards)
    • Gamism
      • competition
    • Simulationism
      • exploration of the fictional world
    • Narrativism
      • creation of story via roleplaying
  • Three Way Model (Bockman)
    • player behavior, style of play
    • Dramatists
      • storyline
      • argues this is the same as Narrationist
    • Gamists
      • solving
    • Immersionists
      • Living the role in a 360 illusion
      • vicariously live out characters (argues that this is the same as Simulationism)
  • Prior research. Largely focused on player behavior, not on conceptual theory. Possibly useful when designing immersive experiences, but not likely useful in the context of developing a theory of immersion
  • Wunderkammer term is taken from proto-museums,
    • “a microcosm of wonders that trigger imagination and ingenious thoughts as to the greater macrocosmos of which it is a representation”
    • “a macrocosmos not only of fictional laws, but ideal and fictional entities”
  • Proto-museums are an interesting avenue into pre-industrial worldbuilding and immersion!
  • WK means “tabletop RPGs have the ability to insert features into the setting and genre and make it somehow fit the feel or mood of the rest of the collection of ideas.”
  • Every item becomes a natural part of the collection
  • An artefact dropped into a RPG world becomes appropriate and contextualized by the setting (eg a Crystal Skull in D&D vs Call of Cthulhu)
  • Everything need not add up in the Aristotelian Theatre manner, where all parts must serve the performance.
  • The Wunderkammer is applicable to transmedia storyworlds – arguably, every storyworld milieu serves as a Wunderkammer as well
  • Gesamtkunstwerk (“all-embracing art form”)
    • term from Wagner (1850)
    • “Every part of the role playing game works together as a complete experience with as many powerful effects as possible
    • Only when each of Performance Narrative Ludus & Subcreation work together that the experience becomes a “proper” tabletop RPG one
    • Wagner wanted opera to have all its components work as one
    • “The aim is to get as much as possible out of what the medium… can offer”
  • Performance
    • Defined as pure drama analyzed through performance studies
    • central is the process of playing a character
    • an essential part of RPGs
    • does not assume a separate audience
      • necessitates a greater degree of introspection
      • “more literary”
    • about narrative and play – play-like routines
    • the true content is the presentation and exhibition of the performer
      • narrative and play are support of the performance
  • Narrative
    • the narrative structure through which the action unfolds
    • presented in an orderly fashion, but not a fixed narrative
    • Berger Rognli & Westlund narratologists
    • interactive narrative is made dynamic through player activity
  • Ludus
    • game-features
      • game mechanics
      • “deep play” (Geertz) <– check this out
      • Game classification (Caillois)
      • games as culture (Huizinga)
  • Sub-Creation
    • From Tolkien
    • refers to the fictional world of the roleplaying
    • few researchers go into detail about how shared worlds work
  • Action
    • Performance and Ludus
    • Ludus is applying abstract rules to adjudicate the results of Performance
  • Contemplation
    • Sub-creation and Narrative
    • designer must avoid suspension of disbelief in which anything can happen without reason or consequence
    • instead build on the concept of Inner Consistency of Reality
    • everything is there for a reason
  • Concrete vs Abstract
  • The factors in Konzack’s framework can be applied to immersive experiences as well as traditional RPGs. In Konzack’s terms, the immersive experience (like the RPG) is a Gesamtkunstwerk whose Wunderkammer of objects can be explored by player-audiences. Arguably the Wunderkammer of the immersive experience is less than that in the traditional RPG, as the RPG’s flexibility allows any game object to become immediately and seamlessly contextualized within the world at any time. This may not be so easy in the world of the immersive experience, whose suspension of disbelief is dependent chiefly on sense.

Williams, J. Patrick. Gaming as Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity, and Experience in Fantasy Games. McFarland & Co., 2006.

  • This work is less concerned with the process of immersing within games than it is in exploring the cultures that games generate. It does however touch on roleplaying as pedagogy, so I will be returning to this book when I look at Immersion as pedagogy.
  • ludology, the study of play
  • a ludologist is somebody who wants to have a better understanding of games
  • RPG historical basis is in war gaming
  • Researched as a pedagogical tool
    • games, sims, RP in the classroom
  • Fantasy gaming involves the creation of and interaction with/in social realities
    • the fantasy reality + the real world
  • virtual identities emerge within the social reality of the game – the border between these identities is fuzzy
May 21

Annotated Bibliography

Machon, Josephine. (2013) Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Introduction

  • Immerse: “be submerged in a liquid”, “to involve oneself deeply in a particular activity or interest”
  • Immersive: provides stimulation for a number of senses beyond sight and sound
  • Experience means “to undergo” for the purpose of this discourse
  • One-on-One or One-to-One is designed for one audience member
  • worlds can last longer than the event; one example is even that the proposal/grant is written in-world
  • points out that the space between the show’s end and the return to the world can be “theatricalized”
  • the principle of minimum fiction
    • coined by Stevens
    • “minimum fiction required to play with the real world and… recast it as otherworldly in the imagination and experience of the beholder”
    • in other words, the least that must be done to turn the mundane into something exciting to the audience’s imagination
  • growing fan-bases are said to come about from a growing desire for “genuine physical connection”
  • reduced opportunities for “sentient human interaction” in the face of digital communication
  • immersive theatre requires bodily engagement, tactility
  • “sensually stimulates the imagination”
  • “epic”: grand in execution and profound in appreciation, spectacular but with powerful meaning
  • Immersive theatre means new environment and context every time – no familiar theatrical lights down/lights up presence/lack of presence
  • Techniques and sensibilities attached to immersive theatre can be traced to Modernist Theatre (1905-59) owing to the growing interdisciplinarity of the time
  • the mix of “fun, flux and furore” of immersive practice can be traced the theatre traditions of Commedia Del’Arte and European street theatre, which influenced the so-called “Assemblages, Environments and Happenings” of the mid-20th century
  • Antonin Artaud’s “total theatre” – “an intensive mustering of objects, gestures and signs used in a new spirit” – immersive theatre puts much of his manifesto into practice with its “sensual practice”
  •  Happenings – Allan Kaprow
    • The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible”
    • viewers are fused with the space-time of the performance and lose their identities
    • should take place over multiple locations and avoid the static
    • Should not be repeated
    • Duration perceived as real and experienced as opposed to the conceptual time of traditional theatre
  • Installation Art
    • “art in to which the viewer physically enters”
    • the effect is that the viewer (“actor”) is “submerged”, “engrossed”
  • Immersive experience arise where medium and message are fused
    • the perceiver is within the art
  • Immersive technologies
    • seek to heighten sensual experience
    • seeks control in order to get at the experiential intent of the work
  • impact of duration + space and human interrelationships within the space establish an environmental sensibility that allow wider ecological concerns to exist within the work
  • Communitas
    • place/space/art as living experience facilitates communal recreation
  • Immersive theatre requires
    • the letting down of boundaries
    • giving in to experience
    • willingly engaging in a truly embodied fashion
  • Requires liveness and “live(d)ness
    • the live performance is fleeting, never can be repeated, but lasts in the receiver’s memory of the event
    • praesent – being at hand
    • “live(d)”: the performing/perceiving body is living, tactile, haptic material
    • live(d) bodies establish a constant praesence

Part One: Defining Immersive Theatres

Definitions and Details

  • Traditional theatre vs Immersive Theatre
  • The conventional relationship with theatre asks us to forget our physical bodies. immersive reminds us of our physical presence. Perception is more important than attending.
  • traditional theatre is audio/visual and offers nothing to other senses
  • “Immersive” first applied to computer technologies in the 1980s
  • In digital, “immersive” is applied to displays that generate a 3d image that surround the user.
    • or, deeply involve the senses or create an altered mental state
  • Grau: “Immersion arises when the artwork and technical apparatus, the message and medium of perception, converge into an inseparable whole.. maximize the intensity of the message being transported”
  • In gaming theory and game studies “immersion” is used interchangeably with “presence”
  • Immersive theatre must be a practice in and of itself, and not defer to any technological practice
  • a sense of presence is always related to form (Calleja)
  • the live(d) experience is a tangible fact and a pivotal element of the immersive experience
  • Immersion as Absorption
    • the event is a total activity that engrosses the participant within its form
  • Immersion as Transportation
    • the participant is imaginatively and scenographically reoriented in another place, requiring navigation according to its own rules
    • in games this occurs in a conceptual space, in immersive theatre this is a conceptual space and an inhabited physical space
    • affords actual physical cohabitation and contact with human bodies
  • Total Immersion
    • Involving both of the above and leading to an uncanny recognition of the participant’s own praesence within the experience
    • the participant can fashion their own narrative or journey
  • All immersive events exist at some point between these three criteria
  • Earliest claimed usage of “immersive” in relation to theatre is attributable to Artangel; Morris uses it to describe La Fura Dels Baus in 1983.
  • Oily Cart using immersive sensory explorations as educational and therapeutic purposes, such as being immersed in hydrotherapy pools, sensory explorations using scent, touch, feeling of momentum using trampolines
  • Immersive theatre begins to be defined as a genre between 2005-2010
  • Immersive theatre is the practice which allows participants to be in “the playing area” with the performers

Features and Finer Details: A Scale of Immersivity

  • Venue, architectural details & design, landscapes, are of concern
    • can incorporate a focus on geographic location, community, culture, history politics
  • “Audience involvement, audience evolvement”
  • Threefold agenda of “activation; authorship; community” (Bishop)
  • “theatre experienced from within… part of it rather than fundamentally distinct”
  • Audiences are keen for visceral experiences that can remind an individual what it is to feel alive; esp as people spend more time online
  • Machines like ATMs now perform work that once represented “many opportunities for exchanges, pleasure, or conflict”
    • “art is a state of encounter” (Bourriaud 2006)
    • Immersive practice creates a space for reinvigorating human interaction and exchange
  • Difficult to come up with a term for audience members (I’ve been saying “participants” mostly)
    • immersants vs immersees
  • Mercuriali: “everyday technology use can serve to distance human interaction and destroy a sense of personal connection… The immersive practice can employ technology to return the user to the personal relationship that is more precious than anything”
  • A central feature of immersive theatre is related to the sensual construction of the world
  • Banes taxonomy of odour: 1) to illustrate words, characters, places, or action. 2) to evoke a mood or ambience. 3) to complement or contrast with aural/visual signs. 4) to summon specific memories. 5) to frame the performance as ritual. 6) to serve as a distancing device
    • Olfactory sense has the capacity to “summon up memories”, argues that it in some way fuses past and present in time
  • Haptics (meaning skin to surface, skin against skin, kinaesthetics and proprioception – not necessarily the digital definition of haptics) are “often crucial” to immersive performance experience
    • Haptics are “whole body” experience
  • touch is an opportunity for “sensate involvement” – 78
  • The prioritization of all human senses opens up a new taxonomy for appreciation – 80
    • Articulated by Lundahl and Seitl as the “sixth sense”.
    • The “(syn)aesthetic sense”
    • draws on the full cognition of the body to make sense and sense the inarticulable
    • This is unusual due to the process of becoming aware of the fusion of senses
  • “the play of the senses… allows for an immediate and intimate interaction within the performance event.
  • Immersive practice is, and must be, an embodied event. – 83
  • Immersive practice can encourage individual to invest in each other as well as the work
    • a palpable sense of communitas – 85
  • Higgin: the storytelling environment bleeds into the real world – 87
  • collaborate with communities to encourage them to find an artistic access to their local environment + reignite their relationship to their community (Holdsworth) – 88

Immersive Perspectives

  • Theories pulled from multiple disciplines
    • philosophy and art
  • (syn)aesthetics – 104
    • making sense/sense-making
    • understanding through embodied, somatic perception via feeling
  • aesthetics
    • subjective creation, experience, and criticism of the art
  • corporeal memory and embodied knowledge – 105
    • primordial human impulses
    • the emotional and physiological capabilities of the physical body
  • Deleuze: “Immanence” – 108
    • fusion between immanence (a state of being, within the material/physical qualities of human experience) and transcendence
    • transcendence is supressing the materially immanent and entering int oan otherworldly state. “Transcendence is always a product of immanence”
    • (syn)aesthetically pulled between the plausible and implausible – 109
    • “sensation is in the body and not in the air”
    • Deleuze aligns with Artaud’s theories for theatre
    • “artworks just are sensation” and allow us to enter into a “pure presence” or a “pure plane of immanence”
  • Kathryn Linn Geurts: “Seselelame” – 110
    • Anlo-Ewe peoples’ word
    • embodied consciousness for which in some non-western cultures there already exists an expressive vocabulary (Geurts, 2003, 2006)
    • social and cultural experience is bound in sensory order established by early education
    • Seselelame: “perceive-perceive-at-flesh-inside”
    • Anlo sensory does not divide itself by five senses (a Western ideal) but by a generalized feeling within the body that includes internal senses (such as balance and proprioception) and external ones, as well as perceptual, emotional, intuitive dimensions of experience – 111
    • both a specific sense and a descriptor for human sentience in general
    • The embodied sentience innate in all humans, which exists in everyday pursuits
      • (intention is not to appropriate the Anlo terms a theoretical concept and academic jargon, but to show how Geurts’s study is useful to prioritizing embodied knowledge) – 112
  • Umberto Eco
    • wrote of the active judgment of the audience member of the audience member when interpreting and experiencing artistic works – 113
    • “art can only represent and express the experience of human existence by employing equally open and complex forms” – 114
    • where works are open, the performer can “impose his judgement on the form of the piece” which forms “fresh dialectics between the work of art and the performer” – openness is “indefiniteness” – audience is an active collaborator in the work, resulting in an outcome where the work is constantly being formulated and interpreted
    • the audience and artist must work together
    • the form of the artwork gains an “aesthetic validity” in proportion to the perspectives from which it can be viewed and understood
    • Eco notes that his perspective comes from contemporary theory and practice and cannot be applied to work prior to the twentieth century – 115
  • Jacques Ranciere
    • theorizes the relationship between aesthetics and politics
    • his perspective is central to the collaborative nature of immersive events
      • suggests a democratic community within these events – 117
    • refers to Plato’s “choreographic community” where everyone moves to the “community rhythm”
    • emancipation: “the blurring of the boundary between those who act and those who look; between individuals and members of a collective body”
    • “viewing” is an action that encapsulates “observes, selects, compares, interprets”
  • Nicolas Borriaud
    • “art is a state of encounter” – 120
  • Juhani Pallasmaa
    • the sensuality of space – 123
  • Doreen Massey
    • The politics of space and place – 130
  • Gaston Bachelard
    • the poetics of space – 137
May 11

Annotated Bibliography

Coulton, P., Lindley, J., Sturdee, M., & Stead, M. 2017. ‘Design Fiction as World Building’. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Biennial Research Through Design Conference, 22-24 March 2017, Edinburgh, UK, Article 11, pp. 163-179. DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.4746964.

  • worldbuilding
  • Bruce Sterling: Design fiction is more “practical” than science fiction
  • “Design Fiction is the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change”
  • There is a diversity of mediums in which to create design fictions
  • What is the diegesis?
  • what is the “story” in “story world”?
  • “It tells worlds not stories”
  • “The creation of rhetoric within a world rather than through a story allows those interacting with the world to explore the rhetoric of that world rather than being forced down a prescribed path”
  • Diegetic prototypes that exist within the story world are part of everyday life and are real in that world
  • The world is the principle task of the designer when creating a design fiction
  • they propose a framework where the design fiction world is a distinct entity, with a distinct shape, but with a complex hidden inner structure
    • a series of “entry points” are visible
    • this is an artefact that contributes to making up the design fiction and can be extrapolated from (see Figure 1)
  • “Powers of 10” inspired by the film of the same name
  • start with an entry point and increase the “visible area”
  • world building applied to design fiction moves the focus away from storytelling and instead it is placed on the cohesion of the world – how things and people interact
  • Design fictions are “collections of artefacts, that, when viewed together build a fictional world”
  • “The artificially built world is a prototyping platform for the very designs that define it, meanwhile these designs reciprocate in kind and prototype the world”

Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. MIT Press, 2013. pp 69 -100

  • Chapter 5 – A Methodological Playground: Fictional Worlds and Thought Experiments
    • Shift the focus from how the world is now to how the world could be
    • Lubomir Dolezel: speculative design is “experimental laboratory of the world-constructing enterprise”
    • Speculation = imagining other worlds and alternatives
    • tools for reflection, critique, provocation, inspiration
    • build a whole world rather than traditional starting points
    • actual vs fictional is key distinction
    • literature & fine art offer the best sources of inspiration
    • a fictional world can be impossible; a possible world needs to be plausible
    • examples of non-fictional worlds in fashion, fine art Crewmaster Cycle and The Fantasy Collection
    • Game design is the area where fictional worlds is most developed
    • Utopia: literary utopia, utopian practice, utopian social theory
    • Nazism, Fascism, Stalinism are said to be the fruits of utopian thinking <- attempts to realize utopias from the top-down
    • utopia is “far more interesting when used as a stimulus to keep idealism alive” “something to aim for rather than build”
    • cognitive estrangement, a development of Brecht’s Alienation Effect, describes how alternate realities can aid critique of our world through contrast
    • Limitation of cinema: can deliver a powerful story and immersive experience but “requires a degree of passivity in the viewer reinforced by easily recognized and understood visual cues”
    • As designers we are between literature and cinema
    • start with designs that the viewer can use to imagine the society/world that would have produced them
    • China Mieville’s The City and the City is poli-science fiction, everything is familiar; the reconceptualizing of the common concept “the border” is the crux of the fictional world (and “makes it relevant to design”)
    • Reducto Ad Absurdum thought experiment: take one argument to the extreme
    • Counterfactual thought experiment: change a historical fact and consider what might have happened
    • What-ifs thought experiment: what might happen in a society of extreme circumstances
    • Speculative design is fictional, disconnected from industry and market
    • Speculation & imagination is a part of everyday design
    • The purpose of speculation is to “unsettle the present rather than predict the future”
  • Chapter 6 – Physical Fictions: Invitations of Make-Believe
    • Fictional objects exist outside of art and design; such as patents and failed inventions. Fictional objects but accidental fictions
    • Film props and design speculations have different requirements; film props must be legible and serve a greater purpose & use a visual language
    • functions in design speculations can be wider and more varied
    • Kendall L Walton: props are objects that “prescribe imaginings” and “generate fictional truths”
    • Being “caught up in a story” means “to participate psychologically in a game in which the story is a prop”
    • Speculative design props do not carry a behavioral schema with predetermined roles to fill
    • A Prop’s purpose is to “facilitate imagining”
    • Props are synecdoches of the fictional world, designed to elicit a response to the world the prop belongs to
    • Suspension of disbelief = asking people to participate in make-believe, not belief
    • belief leads to fakery, trickery, hoaxes
    • for Dunne & Raby “fooling the viewer into believing something is real is cheating”
    • A speculative object does not have to be realistic, just plausible
    • Objects must appear real but subtly signal that they are not
    • Differences between design fiction and speculative design, including that design fiction is intended mostly for video & internet

Von Stackelberg, Peter, and Alex McDowell. “What in the World? Storyworlds, Science Fiction, and Futures Studies.” Journal of Futures Studies, 20 Dec. 2015, pp. 25–46.

  • Universes provide rulesets that develop larger realities
  • Theories have found their way into foresight methodologies
  • Foresight professionals should understand storyworlds
  • Also read: Floyd (2008), Fuller and Loogma (2009), Inayatullah (2010), Slaughter (2011) for analyses of foresight methods
  • Causal Layered Analysis (CLA): delve into subjectivity, interpretation, and cultural context. Multiple levels to make sense of reality and the future
  • Social Constructionism: Whenever we employ words or symbols to refer to objects we are constructing them. Re: Future Studies, each member of a group contributes to the development of a world using currently available information.
  • Integral Theory: Subjective Perspective (individuals interior world), Objective Perspective (individual’s exterior world), Interobjective Perspective (collective exterior world or physical world), Intersubjective Perspective (collective interior world or shared meaning of groups as expressed in culture)
  • Critical Futures Studies (CFS) and Integral Futures (IF): examines “social interiors” (language, worldviews, paradigms, values) of the future (equivalent to Intersubjective Perspective of Integral Theory)
  • Sense-Making: Social activity where plausible stories are shared, retained, and preserved. Vital to the processing of information.
  • Storytelling exists to help us make sense of the world around us
  • Narratives support strategic decision making and critical reflection, help comprehend uncertainties
  • Futures narrative creative process by Schultz, Crews, and Lum (2012)
    • 1) Create a participatory, integrated futures process that digs into organizational cultural assumptions and blind spots
    • 2) produce scenarios inductively by interconnecting impacts of multiple variables to mimic more closely the turbulence of real-world change
    • 3) engage participants in creating their own richly detailed, vivid, dramatic stories about possible futures
  • Design fiction prototypes possible future outcomes of contemporary life
  • science fiction and future studies can be confused and “each side worries about being confused with one another”
  • Emotional processes can affect attention and information processing, which science fiction provides
    • “the future is felt as well as imagined and considered”
  • Literary metaphors of future-oriented science fiction (Levin, 2010)
    • Cautionary Tales
    • Thought Experiments
    • Literalized Metaphors
    • Explorations of new science and technology
  • A formal framework for science fiction prototyping (Graham, Greenhill, Dymski, Coles, & Hennelly 2015)
    • narratives based on facts as a design tool in the development of a technology
  • Storyworld: “The place and time in which a narrative happens”
    • or Chronotope (“time-space”)
  • This ability to immerse participants in a persistent coherent storyworld is one of the key strengths of the worldbuilding process and is one that holds promise for futures oriented projects”
  • Future Reality as opposed to science fiction in Minority Report
  • Alex McDowell’s Mandala as a world building process framework
    • First stage: “What If And Why Not”mandala
  • organic evolutionary collaborative process centred in storytelling allowed the emergence of the holistic fictional world (called “precognitive”) of Minority Report
  • Foresight professionals should “set the future in a story” so the audience is better able to experience it
  • Peter von Stackelberg Alfred State College of Technology (SUNY) USA E-mail: pvonstackelberg@stny.rr.com
  • Alex McDowellSchool of Cinematic Arts Media Arts + Practice University of Southern California USA E-mail: amcdowell@cinema.usc.edu
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 https://www.nhag.org/uploads/2/4/9/1/24914531/holmes_-_stereograph.pdf

  • 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