[-empyre-] Re: immersion [was Re: intro from tamiko thiel]
Try read the fine print in my last email - I agree with with you on the
primacy of message over medium.
I delight in using the term "virtual reality" because so many people
have said for so long that VR is dead. And also exactly because of the
phenomenon you complain of - because the tech nerds were restricting the
use of the word "immersive" to the HMD/CAVE experiences. So for me it is
a way of tickling people into thinking about what they expect out of
It would be fun to experience one of your performances sometime :)
Adam Nash wrote:
Hi Tamiko, everyone,
Sure, I enjoy the physical aspects of, say, sitting in a cinema with a
huge screen (although, I swear if I see one more 'bullet time' kung fu
sequence or hear one more 'overwhelming' dolby-digital explosion, I'm
gonna hurl !!).
And I think you're right that the body reacts to it, but I still feel
that it is the content (can we please reappropriate that word back from
marketing? :-) of the artwork itself that defines whether the
*experience* itself is an immersive one, a lasting one, a memory which
transcends the physical situation of the beholding.
I believe the type of immersion of attention that you speak about when
reading a book comes only from compelling subject matter and/or
presentation, and is independent of the medium itself.
Do you mean to suggest, then, that a piece that lacks compelling subject
matter will become compelling when presented in a physically immersive
environment? Less confrontationally, would the Face To Face piece be as
'immersive' as Beyond Manzanar if it were projected in the same way?
So perhaps we can talk about:
- full physical/perceptual immersion, where you can't see anything else,
- perceptual/kinesthetic engagement, where you can see the rest of the
environment but the virtual image still affects your kinesthetic senses,
- and a compelling artwork that holds your attention,
as being 3 different meanings that people use for the word "immersion."
Well, I don't know - I mean, certainly these distinctions are true when
used to describe a physical situation, but I don't think that
'immersion' is achieved through any other means than the compelling
artwork itself. I've had truly moving, memorable experiences (and yes,
I'd call it immersive) looking at a 160x120 QuickTime window on my
computer monitor, and have also been completely bored in an iMax
theatre. When I think back on a novel I have read, I don't think of the
physical situation I was in whilst reading (aside: reading is
interesting because the beholding of a novel often takes place over
temporally and spatially disparate situations), I enter the world in
which the novel takes place. That, to me, is true immersion. Equally,
when I remember the web excerpt of Beyond Manzanar, I am completely
immersed within the environment of the prison camp itself - my computer
monitor on my desk in my studio simply is not part of the memory.
I do specifically use the word "experiential" for the sort of
interactive, navigable 3D VR that Beyond Manzanar is, and think that
"experiential virtual environments" is a good term to distinguish
these non-competitive works from games such as Myst and its follow-ons,
Yes, that could be an appropriate term, and whilst I am wary of the word
'virtual' because it does imply a copy of reality, it is hard to think
of another way to describe, say, Melinda's Empyrean for example. But is
it too grand a term? Will 'interactive 3D' suffice? Perhaps that removes
an unreasonable expectation that the term 'virtual' sets up. I like the
interactivity, or navigability, of Web3D, but have little or no interest
in using it to represent physical reality (if Simon and John can work
out what that actually is ;-) so it would be good to have a way of
describing it that distinguishes it from true Virtual Reality endeavours.
There are two major negatives for me with the term Virtual Reality.
One, until 'The Other 3 Senses' are virtualised, it needs to be called
'Virtual 2/5ths of Reality' (I haven't forgotten about the other
senses, but I think art by its very nature accommodates various of them).
Two, the sheer amount of physical and financial hassle required to mount
physically immersive environments. This is not to say that I have
anything against such environments (I love them, and try to expreience
them whenever I can, which is not very often down here in the colonies
:-), just that they don't appeal to my work method, which, being a
performer and musician, is much more akin to using Web3D as if it were
music, ie, conceive of it, write it, perform it, keep it in the
repertoire, move on to the next one. I like the idea of it being
non-site specific and able to be beheld in a variety of situations, be
it in someone's home, projected in a gallery, or at a live gig a la live
music - which is something I'll be doing a lot more of now that I've
built up a big enough repertoire of pieces to make up a good length 'set'.
whose main point is the solving of a puzzle even though the process of
solving the puzzle requires you to go use an experiential technique. I
talk more about the development of experiential dramatic structure for
Beyond Manzanar in the online paper:
This defines a crucial difference in approach - you have the much more
difficult and concrete task of representing a dramatic structure and a
physical structure, so I may be forcing you into a dialogue that you
really needn't engage in. I am interested to hear your opinions, though,
as well as those of others on the list.
Tamiko Thiel Media Artist
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