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    Analogue and Digital Immersive Experiences: What should digital creators learn from live theatre makers?

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2018)

    London, UK, 9 - 13 July 2018


    Ágnes Karolina Bakk



    In every century, there are different apparatuses that are redefining and refining the notion of immersion. After experiencing panoramas, planetariums or even IMAX movies, we are now longing to see whether VR can really fulfil our expectations. We are ready to offer all our senses and to experience new situations and to be present somewhere else. But is the virtual reality’s medium prepared for these expectations? Meanwhile the immersive theatre’s genre is spreading and engaging the audience for couple of hours into their very peculiar environments. The aim of my research is to point out different features of live theatre that, when combined with or added to VR-experiences, can enhance the immersion and create more realistic illusions.

    My investigation is related to narratology and reception studies, and is based on recent findings related to VR. First I’m going to present through some examples how 360-degree fictional movies are exploring their specialties by transferring the narrative literally into the viewers head (e.g. Alteration by Jerome Blanquet, or Rhizomat VR by Mona el Gammal) as a way to capture the viewers empathy more. In immersive performances the audience is considered a participant with a given role. This way the narrative environment is constructed in such a way that allows the participants to unfold the story by directing their focus to carefully planned details.

    This does not make the participants the story’s protagonist, but they can become the protagonist of the experience itself. They can have a variety of experiences that are directly addressing all of their senses creating more suspense. Based on different examples, I will point out various tactics that VR-movie creators can use to draft their own language and offer more inputs for their viewers. I will also point out how to create such environments for using the VR HMD that can dramatically be built into a viewing situation, without having the forced isolation feeling. My research is based on an audience survey made in June 2017 in Mannheim following a performance by SIGNA, on several interviews conducted with immersive theatre makers, and also on hermeneutical analysis of different VR creations.


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