rubble
1 December 2022

Ready, Player, Art! Testing Innovative Preparation Tools for Virtual Environments

Federica Cavaletti, Ilaria Terrenghi
No data was found
3 November 2022

But have we ever (been) immersed? Atmospherological cues

Tonino Griffero
Online
One of the issues that mostly challenge the iconic character of environmental images delivered by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is characterized by multisensoriality. Indeed, the cultural tradition which conceives the image under the domain of vision is undermined by immersive media experiences that involve the entire sensorium, going so far as to embrace even senses traditionally considered inferior such as taste and smell (an example is Cosmos within Us, Tupac Martir 2019). Multisensoriality refers to the simultaneity with which different senses grasp everyday experience. In this direction, multisensoriality has been distinguished from intersensoriality, or “the interrelation and/or transumation of the senses, which may take many forms” (Ong, 1991), of which it constitutes only one of the possible declinations. Multisensory experiences are also related to the complex tradition of synaesthesia, a concept which emerged in the arts in the 19th century from the rediscovery of non-Western and pre-modern sensory cultures (Howes 2011; Marks, 2014). Indeed, the “sensory-specificity” that has imposed, since Aristotle, both the taxonomy of the five senses and the correspondence of sensory experiences with singular organic channels, is to be seen as historically and culturally determined and destined to be changed by the advent of new technologies and devices. The same number of the senses involved in perception has been constantly rethought (from a minimum of ten to a maximum of thirty-three), especially through the multiplication of experiences related to touch (temperature, pain, proprioception, balance) (Howes, 2009; Hemshaw, 2012). The cultural character of the senses is the focus of sensory studies, a set of anthropological and historiographical approaches aimed at interrogating the cultural character of the senses (Howes 2022). In this field, the perspective of sensory history appears to be prevalent, since this latter not only analyzes various historical events and contexts from the primary role that the senses play in them, but also considers the sensorium as the main vehicle for implementing strategies of reenactment and actualization of the past (Smith, 2015; Classen, 2014). These are extremely interesting approaches to understand nowadays codes and strategies by which an-icons, intended as immersive environments, propose multisensory, intersensory and synaesthetic experiences. Accordingly, this seminar intends to investigate the disposition of the sensorium in the new digital and immersive mediascape following the interdisciplinary intersection between three main approaches: 1) Aesthetics: an approach able to interrogate the historicity of aisthesis by taking into consideration both the advent of new wearable and prosthetic technologies of the sensorium and the confrontation with a theoretical debate that from Benjamin and MacLuhan reaches the most recent approaches of sensory studies, investigating the reciprocal relations by which the senses shape our experience 2) Media archaeology: an approach which aims at interrogating in an archaeological sense the history of multi- and intersensory media, especially in relation to sensory experiences different from the traditional audio-visual blend 3) Art and performance theory: an approach which considers how the contribution of new techniques and technologies in art and performance are reorganizing the sensory experience by questioning the meaning of our ideas of both body and image.
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27 October 2022

How Images Appear – Ontological and Epistemological Concerns

Krešimir Purgar
Aula M303
One of the issues that mostly challenge the iconic character of environmental images delivered by virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is characterized by multisensoriality. Indeed, the cultural tradition which conceives the image under the domain of vision is undermined by immersive media experiences that involve the entire sensorium, going so far as to embrace even senses traditionally considered inferior such as taste and smell (an example is Cosmos within Us, Tupac Martir 2019). Multisensoriality refers to the simultaneity with which different senses grasp everyday experience. In this direction, multisensoriality has been distinguished from intersensoriality, or “the interrelation and/or transumation of the senses, which may take many forms” (Ong, 1991), of which it constitutes only one of the possible declinations. Multisensory experiences are also related to the complex tradition of synaesthesia, a concept which emerged in the arts in the 19th century from the rediscovery of non-Western and pre-modern sensory cultures (Howes 2011; Marks, 2014). Indeed, the “sensory-specificity” that has imposed, since Aristotle, both the taxonomy of the five senses and the correspondence of sensory experiences with singular organic channels, is to be seen as historically and culturally determined and destined to be changed by the advent of new technologies and devices. The same number of the senses involved in perception has been constantly rethought (from a minimum of ten to a maximum of thirty-three), especially through the multiplication of experiences related to touch (temperature, pain, proprioception, balance) (Howes, 2009; Hemshaw, 2012). The cultural character of the senses is the focus of sensory studies, a set of anthropological and historiographical approaches aimed at interrogating the cultural character of the senses (Howes 2022). In this field, the perspective of sensory history appears to be prevalent, since this latter not only analyzes various historical events and contexts from the primary role that the senses play in them, but also considers the sensorium as the main vehicle for implementing strategies of reenactment and actualization of the past (Smith, 2015; Classen, 2014). These are extremely interesting approaches to understand nowadays codes and strategies by which an-icons, intended as immersive environments, propose multisensory, intersensory and synaesthetic experiences. Accordingly, this seminar intends to investigate the disposition of the sensorium in the new digital and immersive mediascape following the interdisciplinary intersection between three main approaches: 1) Aesthetics: an approach able to interrogate the historicity of aisthesis by taking into consideration both the advent of new wearable and prosthetic technologies of the sensorium and the confrontation with a theoretical debate that from Benjamin and MacLuhan reaches the most recent approaches of sensory studies, investigating the reciprocal relations by which the senses shape our experience 2) Media archaeology: an approach which aims at interrogating in an archaeological sense the history of multi- and intersensory media, especially in relation to sensory experiences different from the traditional audio-visual blend 3) Art and performance theory: an approach which considers how the contribution of new techniques and technologies in art and performance are reorganizing the sensory experience by questioning the meaning of our ideas of both body and image.
https://an-icon.unimi.it/wp-content/uploads/NOBc22z4.jpeg
13 June
16 June 2022

Immersed in the work

From the environment to virtual reality
Sala Napoleonica
No data was found
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31 May 2022

Virtual reality and pictorial seeing

Online
The concept of presence, the feeling of “being there” and living as an embodied subject in a virtual world, has been investigated extensively in media studies and aesthetics. The progressive blurring of the threshold between the virtual and real world, as well as an increased awareness of the co-constitution between body and technology, puts once more into question the concept of presence and challenges us to develop new critical perspectives and research paradigms. Presence studies have played a pioneering role by focusing on how remotely operated machinery and virtual reality technologies (Held, Durlach 1992; Ijsselsteijn, Riva 2003; Lombard et al. 2015; Slater 2003; Farocki 2004) can convey a sense of being in a place other than our physical location. In technological mediated experience, the sense of presence is characterised by a perceptual illusion of non-mediation (Lombard, Ditton 1997) and a feeling of transparency (Bolter, Grusin 1999). “Presence” hints both at the notion of “telepresence” (Minsky 1980; Sheridan 1992) that describes the possibility to remotely act in a physical space through machinery information exchanges; and at “presence” as the feeling of inhabiting different forms of virtual environments (Slater, Wilbur 1997; Slater 2018). The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised the presence effect of digital media technologies, as social relationships and everyday activities have been guaranteed through the mediation of screens and videoconference platforms. At the same time, in contrast with the meaning so far presented, in recent months, the term “presence” has become increasingly associated with in-person interactions and with the physical presence of spatial proximity that has been precluded as a result of social distancing. These two complementary articulations of presence – as, on the one hand, the sensation of being elsewhere created by digital and virtual reality technology, and, on the other hand, the irreducible proprioceptive experience of our bodies in the flesh – need to be brought together and investigated in their reciprocal connection. In the narrative of immersive environments, in order to access the virtual world, the body of the experiencer needs to disappear behind a headset and to be isolated from the physical environment. As Jaron Lanier stated in one of his famous definitions of virtual reality (Lanier 2018), those who wander in the virtual space look “preposterously nerdy and dorky” to onlookers. Just like a seer, the experiencer seems to belong to a dimension of clairvoyance, as if entering a sacred space of divination (Dalmasso 2019), consecrated by the very gesture of tracing the grid of so-called guardian space (Grespi 2021). The experiencer’s body opens up a dimension of overlapping and in between. Although elsewhere, this body is present more than ever as it constantly enables the constitution of the virtual space through multisensory stimulation. However, the same body is also the potential source of excess and emersive effects, as the intrusion of physical space brings them back to the opacity of the interface and the hypermediation of virtual reality media. The complex sense of presence elicited in virtual environments relies upon the ability of devices to recognise and react to the user’s gestures and spatial location (Calleja 2011). The constitution of the virtual image is the product of a negotiation between the computer-generated environment and the movement of the experiencer’s body and embodied gaze. How do motion tracking and the biometrics interface both enhance and affect our sense of presence? How does this modify the way we understand presence? As we address the world in the flesh, “presence”, in Dufrenne’s phenomenology (Dufrenne 1953), is what binds us to reality. It represents the nascent state of sensible experience and the condition of possibility of knowledge. The subject as a lived body is capable of grasping the original and raw level of the experience through a “bodily understanding.” Presence is, therefore, the primordial horizon of perceptions, which, as Merleau-Ponty would say, in principle can never be thematized (Merleau-Ponty 1945). As a result, the presence effect arises critically in the fold between the physical and the digital or virtual space, especially challenged in immersive media experiences. As the sense of displacement is a constitutive element of the very notion of the virtual (Lévy 1995), immersive media re-establish new ways of territorialisation which entail, consequently, renewed forms of embodiment. To better understand the different gradients of presence in immersive environments at issue here, it is necessary to delve into the relationship between the experiencer and the virtual space and, thus, to outline a phenomenology of virtual space (Schubert 2009; Champions 2019). Virtual reality compels the experiencer to become embodied within the environmental image, often through full or partial avatarization, whether as a figure – possibly manipulated and assembled by the users themselves – which bears similarities with the human body, a non-human avatar, or a “disembodied” gaze. The very term “avatar,” derived from the Sanskrit “avatāra” (“descent”), means, in Hinduism, the incarnation of a deity in human or animal form, raising the theological background that permeates the entire virtual reality scenario. Moreover, under certain conditions based on plausible similarity to the user’s bodily features and on system responsiveness, avatarisation can not only elicit a strong sense of presence but even induce a body ownership effect (Spanlang et al. 2014), namely the feeling of proprioceptive congruence between one’s own and the virtual body – a technologically enhanced and extended version of the well-known “rubber hand illusion” (Botvinick and Cohen 1998). How does the experience of embodying an avatar elicit a sense of presence in the user? What kind of relationship can we establish between the virtual body and the physical presence of the user’s body in the flesh? How can the fact of inhabiting a virtual body impact the processes of self-representation and the constitution of biocultural identity? If the virtual reality experience could reach such heights as to induce a body ownership effect, these different modes of presence call for a careful analysis of the possible meanings of quasi-embodying another cultural, gender, or racial identity (Tacikowski et al. 2020; Freeman, Maloney 2021). Being present in a virtual world could determine a potential space of identity and bodily experimentation, but, at the same time, it is also double-edged, since it could end up reproducing normative grids and enhancing hegemonic gazes. This seminar aims to investigate the medium of virtual reality and the experience of immersive media through the intertwining of the different meanings of presence outlined above, in order to bring to light the multiple aesthetic, political, and social perspectives they entail, as well as to detect their criticalities and unravel their expressive potential. Possible covered topics: modes of presence in virtual environments and immersive media embodiment and presence effect in VR, AR, and XR philosophical and anthropological theories of the presentification of the image phenomenology of virtual space media-archaeological investigations of presence effect opacity, gaps and emersive effects of virtual-reality experience the role of the presence effect in the constitution of biocultural identities social virtual reality and modifications of behavioural settings (Proteus Effect) the creation of VR experience, performances and installations VR pornography, immersive journalism, pro-social and humanitarian VR
19 May 2022

Osaka ’70 VR Experience

Valentina Temporin, John Volpato
Sala Martinetti
The concept of presence, the feeling of “being there” and living as an embodied subject in a virtual world, has been investigated extensively in media studies and aesthetics. The progressive blurring of the threshold between the virtual and real world, as well as an increased awareness of the co-constitution between body and technology, puts once more into question the concept of presence and challenges us to develop new critical perspectives and research paradigms. Presence studies have played a pioneering role by focusing on how remotely operated machinery and virtual reality technologies (Held, Durlach 1992; Ijsselsteijn, Riva 2003; Lombard et al. 2015; Slater 2003; Farocki 2004) can convey a sense of being in a place other than our physical location. In technological mediated experience, the sense of presence is characterised by a perceptual illusion of non-mediation (Lombard, Ditton 1997) and a feeling of transparency (Bolter, Grusin 1999). “Presence” hints both at the notion of “telepresence” (Minsky 1980; Sheridan 1992) that describes the possibility to remotely act in a physical space through machinery information exchanges; and at “presence” as the feeling of inhabiting different forms of virtual environments (Slater, Wilbur 1997; Slater 2018). The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised the presence effect of digital media technologies, as social relationships and everyday activities have been guaranteed through the mediation of screens and videoconference platforms. At the same time, in contrast with the meaning so far presented, in recent months, the term “presence” has become increasingly associated with in-person interactions and with the physical presence of spatial proximity that has been precluded as a result of social distancing. These two complementary articulations of presence – as, on the one hand, the sensation of being elsewhere created by digital and virtual reality technology, and, on the other hand, the irreducible proprioceptive experience of our bodies in the flesh – need to be brought together and investigated in their reciprocal connection. In the narrative of immersive environments, in order to access the virtual world, the body of the experiencer needs to disappear behind a headset and to be isolated from the physical environment. As Jaron Lanier stated in one of his famous definitions of virtual reality (Lanier 2018), those who wander in the virtual space look “preposterously nerdy and dorky” to onlookers. Just like a seer, the experiencer seems to belong to a dimension of clairvoyance, as if entering a sacred space of divination (Dalmasso 2019), consecrated by the very gesture of tracing the grid of so-called guardian space (Grespi 2021). The experiencer’s body opens up a dimension of overlapping and in between. Although elsewhere, this body is present more than ever as it constantly enables the constitution of the virtual space through multisensory stimulation. However, the same body is also the potential source of excess and emersive effects, as the intrusion of physical space brings them back to the opacity of the interface and the hypermediation of virtual reality media. The complex sense of presence elicited in virtual environments relies upon the ability of devices to recognise and react to the user’s gestures and spatial location (Calleja 2011). The constitution of the virtual image is the product of a negotiation between the computer-generated environment and the movement of the experiencer’s body and embodied gaze. How do motion tracking and the biometrics interface both enhance and affect our sense of presence? How does this modify the way we understand presence? As we address the world in the flesh, “presence”, in Dufrenne’s phenomenology (Dufrenne 1953), is what binds us to reality. It represents the nascent state of sensible experience and the condition of possibility of knowledge. The subject as a lived body is capable of grasping the original and raw level of the experience through a “bodily understanding.” Presence is, therefore, the primordial horizon of perceptions, which, as Merleau-Ponty would say, in principle can never be thematized (Merleau-Ponty 1945). As a result, the presence effect arises critically in the fold between the physical and the digital or virtual space, especially challenged in immersive media experiences. As the sense of displacement is a constitutive element of the very notion of the virtual (Lévy 1995), immersive media re-establish new ways of territorialisation which entail, consequently, renewed forms of embodiment. To better understand the different gradients of presence in immersive environments at issue here, it is necessary to delve into the relationship between the experiencer and the virtual space and, thus, to outline a phenomenology of virtual space (Schubert 2009; Champions 2019). Virtual reality compels the experiencer to become embodied within the environmental image, often through full or partial avatarization, whether as a figure – possibly manipulated and assembled by the users themselves – which bears similarities with the human body, a non-human avatar, or a “disembodied” gaze. The very term “avatar,” derived from the Sanskrit “avatāra” (“descent”), means, in Hinduism, the incarnation of a deity in human or animal form, raising the theological background that permeates the entire virtual reality scenario. Moreover, under certain conditions based on plausible similarity to the user’s bodily features and on system responsiveness, avatarisation can not only elicit a strong sense of presence but even induce a body ownership effect (Spanlang et al. 2014), namely the feeling of proprioceptive congruence between one’s own and the virtual body – a technologically enhanced and extended version of the well-known “rubber hand illusion” (Botvinick and Cohen 1998). How does the experience of embodying an avatar elicit a sense of presence in the user? What kind of relationship can we establish between the virtual body and the physical presence of the user’s body in the flesh? How can the fact of inhabiting a virtual body impact the processes of self-representation and the constitution of biocultural identity? If the virtual reality experience could reach such heights as to induce a body ownership effect, these different modes of presence call for a careful analysis of the possible meanings of quasi-embodying another cultural, gender, or racial identity (Tacikowski et al. 2020; Freeman, Maloney 2021). Being present in a virtual world could determine a potential space of identity and bodily experimentation, but, at the same time, it is also double-edged, since it could end up reproducing normative grids and enhancing hegemonic gazes. This seminar aims to investigate the medium of virtual reality and the experience of immersive media through the intertwining of the different meanings of presence outlined above, in order to bring to light the multiple aesthetic, political, and social perspectives they entail, as well as to detect their criticalities and unravel their expressive potential. Possible covered topics: modes of presence in virtual environments and immersive media embodiment and presence effect in VR, AR, and XR philosophical and anthropological theories of the presentification of the image phenomenology of virtual space media-archaeological investigations of presence effect opacity, gaps and emersive effects of virtual-reality experience the role of the presence effect in the constitution of biocultural identities social virtual reality and modifications of behavioural settings (Proteus Effect) the creation of VR experience, performances and installations VR pornography, immersive journalism, pro-social and humanitarian VR

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