Conference Paper

Anonymous: VR Storytelling through alienation and reflexivity

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This paper describes practice-based research in the reflexive dimensions of cinematic VR, using alienation and disembod-iment as rhetorical devices. Cinematic VR currently focuses on immersive illusion rather than inducing self-awareness, but VR can also create reflexive contexts for eliciting self and social reflection. Anonymous is an interactive cinematic VR that explores solitude and mortality, specifically people living and dying alone. The work plays on the technical limitations of VR technology as a narrative medium to create a sense of disembodiment and alienation, eliciting embodied reflexivity.

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... In this paper, we study an interactive cinematic VR (CVR) piece titled Anonymous [4]. The storytelling was designed to make audiences reflect on loneliness and death. ...
... The story itself was inspired by the first author's experience of volunteering to help with housework (such as cooking and cleaning) for an old man who lives alone in South Korea [4]. This experience lasted two and a half weeks, and informed the story by orienting our design sensibility to the lived experience of a lonely older adult, as opposed to systematic collection and analysis of data. ...
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This research examines the reflexive dimensions of cinematic virtual reality (CVR) storytelling. We created Anonymous, an interactive CVR piece that employs a reflexive storytelling method. This method is based on distancing effects and is used to elicit audience awareness and self-reflection about loneliness and death. To understand the audience’s experiences, we conducted in-depth interviews to study which design factors and elements prompted reflexive thoughts and feelings. Our findings highlight how the audience experience was impacted by four reflexive dimensions: abstract and minimal aesthetics, everyday materials and textures, the restriction of control, and multiple, disembodied points of view. We use our findings to discuss how these dimensions can inform the design of VR storytelling experiences that provoke self and social reflection.
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Drawing on G. H. Mead and Merleau-Ponty, this paper aims to extend our understanding of self-reflexivity beyond the notion of a discursive, abstract, and symbolic process. It offers a framework for embodied self-reflexivity, which anchors the self in the reflexive capacity of bodily sensations. The data consist of two years of ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews of vipassana meditation practitioners in Israel and the United States. The findings illustrate how bodily sensations are used as indexes to psychological states, emotions, and past experiences, while constant awareness of embodied responses is used as a tool for self-monitoring. The paper follows the interaction between discursive and embodied modes of reflexivity and the attempt to shift from one mode to the other. I suggest that currently popular practices of embodied awareness, from meditation to yoga, are based on embodied self-reflexivity and are part of the postindustrial culture of self-awareness.
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What does it feel like to own, to control, and to be inside a body? The multidimensional nature of this experience together with the continuous presence of one's biological body, render both theoretical and experimental approaches problematic. Nevertheless, exploitation of immersive virtual reality has allowed a reframing of this question to whether it is possible to experience the same sensations towards a virtual body inside an immersive virtual environment as toward the biological body, and if so, to what extent. The current paper addresses these issues by referring to the Sense of Embodiment (SoE). Due to the conceptual confusion around this sense, we provide a working definition which states that SoE consists of three subcomponents: the sense of self-location, the sense of agency, and the sense of body ownership. Under this proposed structure, measures and experimental manipulations reported in the literature are reviewed and related challenges are outlined. Finally, future experimental studies are proposed to overcome those challenges, toward deepening the concept of SoE and enhancing it in virtual applications.
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The advance of digital technologies and evolution of cy- berculture have rejuvenated Modernity's Cartesian dream of the pure mind achieving an unconditional freedom by leaving the body behind. The body, now more than ever, is perceived as another object in the external materiality where, as the lineage of Western thought so obstinately insists, the Truth is to be found. Eastern traditions like Sufi mysticism, on the other hand, offer a stark alternative: the physical reality is dismissed as illusion, the search for the Truth is essentially internal, and the self is not a segregated and detached entity but is an ever-interconnected part of the whole. We argue that leverag- ing both on the ancient wisdom of the East and the immense success of sci- ence and technology of the West, cyberculture can foster a new human condi- tion of re-embodiment, interconnectivity, and re-unity. We maintain that contemporary arts, particularly in performative and collaborative forms, have much to contribute to this endeavor, and emerging technologies like biome- chatronics and neuroprosthetics, which are acclaimed by some for their as- sumed contribution to the ideal of disembodiment, might be exploited by artists to promote a new understanding of embodiment and humanity's inter- connectedness with the rest of the existence.
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With the emergence of new media, interactive film projects have mainly struggled to resolve the contradiction between dramatic structures and interaction. Dramatic film presents identification with the main character, where the viewer is constantly oppressed by the narrative, and therefore lost in illusion. In this context, when we bring on the scene interaction, the drama apparently starts to lose its power. In this article, a new interactive film model based on Brechtian film theory is proposed. This model presents a new way of spatiotemporal construction where different audiovisual combinations can be viewed successively, and this way the viewer can actively construct his/her own story. Theoretical framework of the Brechtian interactive film model is supported by an interactive film application, named Academia. The main feature of the model is that, while interaction is very simple, the continuity of the narrative is preserved and the film requiring an intellectual level of interpretation.
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This paper introduces the concept and discusses the implications of immersive journalism, which is the production of news in a form in which people can gain first-person experiences of the events or situation described in news stories. The fundamental idea of immersive journalism is to allow the participant, typically represented as a digital avatar, to actually enter a virtually recreated scenario representing the news story. The sense of presence obtained through an immersive system (whether a Cave or head-tracked head-mounted displays [HMD] and online virtual worlds, such as video games and online virtual worlds) affords the participant unprecedented access to the sights and sounds, and possibly feelings and emotions, that accompany the news. This paper surveys current approaches to immersive journalism and the theoretical background supporting claims regarding avatar experience in immersive systems. We also provide a specific demonstration: giving participants the experience of being in an interrogation room in an offshore prison. By both describing current approaches and demonstrating an immersive journalism experience, we open a new avenue for research into how presence can be utilized in the field of news and nonfiction.
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We discuss three experiments that investigate how virtual limbs and bodies can come to feel like real limbs and bodies. The first experiment shows that an illusion of ownership of a virtual arm appearing to project out of a person's shoulder can be produced by tactile stimulation on a person's hidden real hand and synchronous stimulation on the seen virtual hand. The second shows that the illusion can be produced by synchronous movement of the person's hidden real hand and a virtual hand. The third shows that a weaker form of the illusion can be produced when a brain-computer interface is employed to move the virtual hand by means of motor imagery without any tactile stimulation. We discuss related studies that indicate that the ownership illusion may be generated for an entire body. This has important implications for the scientific understanding of body ownership and several practical applications.
Todd DeStigter gave the following talk at the 1998 NCTE Conference in Nashville upon receiving the Alan C. Purves Award, presented to the RTE article from the previous year's volume judged most likely to have an impact on the practice of others. DeStigter used the occasion to reflect on his evolving thoughts on the notion of community in public life, drawing on both his RTE article and his current research in a Chicago alternative school. His work in the more complex social arena of urban Chicago causes him to broaden his scope beyond the local community of the Tesoros project and consider the importance of developing and sustaining affective relationships in the larger public sphere.
'The Machine to Be Another' is an embodiment system designed to address the relation between identity and empathy. The project merges performances with protocols of neuroscience experiments, in order to offer users an immersive experience of seeing themselves in the body of another person. The paper reports the methods and partial results of the interdisciplinary qualitative investigation that we are making on low budget approach to stimulate empathy through embodied interaction between individuals.
This brief paper seeks to expose contemporary thinking behind the notion of researcher reflexivity in order to draw out its usefulness for practice-based learning research and for a renewed perspective on reflective practice. Discussion includes social constructionist perspectives, questions of positionality, experiential affinity, the place of scholarship, language and the provenance of our explanatory frameworks. I conclude with a series of questions that can support a reflexive approach to practice-based learning and related research.
In German one says a child is “strange” with adults it does not know, or does not know well: the child may speak little or not at all, will probably stand sucking a finger. But when children are strange in this way they are still at home within themselves, not alienated from their own lives. An adult in a wholly strange environment also may still be at home within himself; indeed, he may depend more on himself, the less a strange environment welcomes him. Alienation from oneself is something quite different, and estrangement is different again (which is what we will have to show in a roundabout way). It is easy to hear where some sounds come from. The word entfremden (“to alienate”) is an old one, originally used in business. Abalienare in Latin means to rid oneself of a thing, to sell something.
The incorporation of interactive technology into the memorialization of the World War II incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans enables those with no prior connection to this history to role-play the internment experience. This essay compares the author’s digital role-playing game Drama in the Delta with the Broadway-bound musical Allegiance, arguing that the shared impulse to use performance to walk in internees’ shoes threatens to eclipse historical understanding with an uncritical form of empathy.
This essay focuses on the theme of intersubjectivity, which is central to the entire Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It addresses the following five themes pertaining to Buddhist concepts of intersubjectivity: (1) the Buddhist practice of the cultivation of meditative quiescence challenges the hypothesis that individual human consciousness emerges solely from the dynamic interrelation of self and other; (2) the central Buddhist insight practice of the four applications of mindfulness is a means for gaining insight into the nature of oneself, others and the relation between oneself and the rest of the world, which provides a basis for cultivating a deep sense of empathy; (3) the Buddhist cultivation of the four immeasurables is expressly designed to arouse a rich sense of empathy with others; (4) the meditative practice of dream yoga, which illuminates the dream-like nature of waking reality is shown to have deep implications regarding the nature of intersubjectivity; (5) the theory and practice of Dzogchen, the 'great perfection' system of meditation, challenges the assertion of the existence of an inherently real, localized, ego-centred mind, as well as the dichotomy of objective space as opposed to perceptual space.
Clarification of conceptualizations of empathy Background. If understanding our clients needs, emotions, and circumstances is fundamental to nursing practice, and empathy is the foundation of that understanding, then a conceptualization of empathy that can be used by nurses is of utmost importance to the profession. In 1992, Morse, Anderson, Bottorff, Yonge, O’Brien, Solberg and McIlveen analysed the concept of empathy in the psychological and nursing literature, and suggested the conceptualization of empathy was incomplete. Since that time, nurse authors have continued to publish conceptualizations and research on empathy. Purpose. The purpose of our analysis was to describe empathy as presented in the nursing literature between 1992 and 2000. Method. A concept clarification methodology of concept analysis was used because of the many definitions, the rich descriptions, and the application of empathy as a research variable in the reviewed literature. Findings. Five conceptualizations of empathy were revealed: empathy as human trait, empathy as a professional state, empathy as a communication process, empathy as caring, and empathy as a special relationship. Conclusions. The literature reviewed contained evidence that the concept is developing more depth and breadth. Nurse authors are approaching empathy from a variety of perspectives, time frames, measurements, and outcomes. While all are important to the development of the concept, further enrichment of the conceptual work on empathy is needed before a fully mature concept emerges that is fully useful in nursing practice, research, and education.
The effectiveness of virtual environments (VEs) has often been linked to the sense of presence reported by users of those VEs. (Presence is defined as the subjective experience of being in one place or environment, even when one is physically situated in another.) We believe that presence is a normal awareness phenomenon that requires directed attention and is based in the interaction between sensory stimulation, environmental factors that encourage involvement and enable immersion, and internal tendencies to become involved. Factors believed to underlie presence were described in the premier issue of Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. We used these factors and others as the basis for a presence questionnaire (PQ) to measure presence in VEs. In addition we developed an immersive tendencies questionnaire (ITQ) to measure differences in the tendencies of individuals to experience presence. These questionnaires are being used to evaluate relationships among reported presenc...
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