Immersive Environments

Go figure - reconciling affect, participation and narrative in the creation of immersive experiences by Kate Sparke Richards/ Aesthetics of Immerive Experience: phenomenological approach by Jinsil Seo/ Arrivals & Departures - Media Res lounge in imagery area by Katerina Karoussos/ Immersive Media Event Experiments: between Hybrid TV and 3D-VJ by Jānis Garančs
Sunday, 18 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:05
Chair Person: 
Kasia Wozniak
Kate Richards
Jinsil Seo
Katerina Karoussos
Janis Garancs

Go figure - reconciling affect, participation and narrative in the creation of immersive experiences

by Kate Sparke Richards

Sectors of the contemporary media arts and performance communities are increasingly concerned with creating affective, participatory experiences for audiences. My practice-led research focus is on praxis with a dominant imperative towards the visceral and immersive, yet narrative is almost inevitably a guest. Such art practices are framed by theories of affective affordance, experience design and participatory design; they are mirrored by trends in entertainment industries such as theme parks and casinos. When William James argued that we run from a bear then we feel afraid, rather than we know we feel afraid, and then we run, he proposed the sequence of feeling/emotion (‘What is an emotion?’, 1884). When Deleuze and Guattari philosophised that our embodied consciousness is an integral part of a porous, boundary-shifting rhizome, they succinctly evoked contemporary communications and neuro-biological models (‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’, 1987). When Brian Massumi contextualised experiments in neuro-psychology within artistic and philosophic discourses, signification as the dominant driver of consciousness was laid to rest (‘Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation’, 2002). These key moments reflect movements away from the domination of western culture by signification, content and moderately shifting meaning. Today artists and performance makers are creating opportunities for audiences to engage with spaces and embodiment, processes and systems - in short affective, porous experiences that touch us pre-cognitively before signification is brought into play. The event-space is often mobile, and it aims to be a constituent and affective space for creating new relations. As Andrew Murphie  explains it, agency can now be understood as a process of “participation and becoming” (‘Inflexions’, vol 1, 2008) rather than a simple facility, a calling and an inclination to act. Specifically, I am exploring what forms of affect, experience and participation might facilitate and precipitate an “abstract [yet] experiential knowing of material” (Margie Medlin and Garth Paine, SEAM Conference, 2010). Looking at the implications for practitioners and audiences, I ask what creative strategies are needed to reconcile a purely affective experience for the audience, with participation, narrative and cognition.

Aesthetics of Immerive Experience: phenomenological approach

by Jinsil Seo

As an Interactive Artist and researcher, I am interested in the phenomenon of immersion created from physical interactions within interactive immersive environments. This paper focuses on the question: what is the aesthetics of immersion in interactive immersive environments.

I acknowledge immersion as a primary aesthetic phenomenon not just because it’s created within artistic environments but because the experience is fundamental to our senses, realized through bodily interaction in its wholeness, and actualized in collaboration with artists. (Fraleigh & Hanstein, 1999) In this paper, I use Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten’s definition of aesthetics as a “theory of sensuous knowledge, as a counterpart to logic as a theory of intellectual knowledge.” (Johnson, 2007) I conduct research on the aesthetics of immersive experience in interactive immersive environments because it involves the whole person and not just one sensory modality. From my pilot study and other researchers’ study (Davies, 1995, 1998; Laurel & Strickland, 1994), the adjectives: “meditative” and “playful” are most often associated with immersive experiences. In my dissertation, I expand beyond these traditional associations to suggest other qualities and meanings of immersion, and explore in detail meditative and playful experiences as steps toward a phenomenological interpretation of immersion.

Since one of the major findings from my preliminary research is that immersion can be created in Interactive Immersive Environments without requiring complex or scientific hardware (HMDs, CAVEs, Virtual Reality Environments, etc.) and only minimal components (light, sound, etc.) are necessary for immersion, my interactive immersive environments are comprised of only minimal – though interactive – elements such as light, sound and tactile forms. To reveal how these preliminary findings arose, I will discuss one of my interactive immersive projects: Light Strings(2011).

The goal of my research is not to create a technical framework for immersive environments or an ideal one; instead the research is focused on the multiple meanings of immersion, how meanings are constructed through human experience which itself arises on a spectrum between artist and participants views using phenomenological research methods. This research will begin to fill a gap between art practice/research and science research that previously separated the terms of aesthetics and immersion.

Arrivals & Departures - Media Res lounge in imagery area

by Katerina Karoussos

“Media res” or “media in res”, meaning into the middle of things, is a Latin phrase concerning a narrative technique in which the story (image and/or text) begins most of the times in the mid-point in which the narrative reaches its most critical point.

In his book “Ars Poetica” (The Art of Poetry) Horace ( Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Rome 65 - 8BC) used the terms “ab ovo” (from the egg) and “in media res” when he was describing the ideal epic poet: “Nor does he begin the Trojan War from the egg, but always he hurries to the action, and snatches the listener into the middle of things. ..” By the term “from the egg” Horace referred to the myth of Leda who, as a swan, gave birth to Helen of Troy from an egg that she kept in her chest until it hatched. Undoubtedly the “egg” as well as the series of Leda’s metamorphoses are conceptual equipments that governed the entire imaginative sphere of that time.

Antiquity imagery captured a moment in media res in which all phenomena whose nature is suddenly to break out, departure and arrive again, simultaneously, in another mental stage, performing as a unified composition in an unconditional and unchanging duration.

This operation, similar to a gestalt effect, seems to be profound and flexible enough to meet out recent ICT’s imagery strategies. Even if it has suffered scant attention and discontinuity from Renaissance’s and Enlightenment’s axioms such as rationalism and realism, it reappears in recent imagery practices like virtual, telematic and immersive artistic techniques.

Immersive Media Event Experiments: between Hybrid TV and 3D-VJ

by Jānis Garančs

Immersive multimedia in its various forms –multiple and urban screens, large scale projections, specialised venues like 3-D cinemas, planetariums and also 3-D displays sets for home TV entertainment and gaming are on rise. Beyond audience adaptation to the novelty of the format itself, its technical advances, the new situation also demands for new type of content and tools.

During 2010 – Art Research Lab (MPLAB) and the Liepaja University has indented to run series of events, ranging from workshops to pilot projects using various formats of immersive multimedia, as tool for creativity and new type content research, specialising on live performance aspects.

Presented will be overview of several projects planned for 2010 in Liepaja University, RIXC – Riga, as well as partner institutions – the Norrkoping Visualisation Centre (Sweden), Aarhus Centre for Advanced Visualisation and Interaction – CAVI in Aarhus, Denmark, Tampere University, Finland.

Among projects would be Jānis Garančs’ project series called ‘AVxD Etudes’, Project prototype RealityMixerTV and 'VR4VR interface' system prototypes for creative content during live events on stage, connected venues, and VR Theatres/Domes.   Description of theoretical intentions and experience with artist’s customised toolset - integration of software (realtime 3D/VR engine, VJ software) and hardware - (rack of surveillance videocameras, video mixers and several input devices) as interactive platform for immersive multimedia performances and 3D-Vj'ing.