A set of presentations and conversations on experience, engagement and mediation in Virtual Reality, Augmented reality and Mixed Reality
Thursday 15th of April
The panel will be followed by a Q&A.
© Original photograph taken by Eivind Sennesvik
Maud Ceuterick: Queering Collective Memory through Technology: Space in Augmented and Virtual Reality
Maud Ceuterick is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research fellow in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen, Norway. Her research concentrates on the relations between gender, space and power on screen, which appears in her monograph Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women: Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Her published work on cinema and digital media deals with topics such as virtual reality and ethnographic audiences, the road movie genre, masculinity and domesticity in transnational cinema, and women and everyday spaces on screen.
While cinema boasts of a long history that has placed the representation and aesthetics of memory at its centre, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are only starting to shape their own aesthetic and narrative engagement with memory. Through the analysis of Chez Moi (Caitlin Fisher and Tony Vieira, 2014), and Queerskins: Ark (Illja Szilak, 2020), this paper shows how cinematic AR and VR involve the viewers’ movement to produce and transform memory and place. Feminist digital geographies, film and media theory, and the concept of orientation developed by Sara Ahmed in Queer Phenomenology (2006) give sense to how viewers’ participation contributes to the rewriting of collective memory and cultural symbols. These artworks queer existing places and collective memory by presenting personal struggles to find a home in heteronormativity.
Kata Szita: Simulating Social Behavior in Extended Reality
Dr. Kata Szita is a researcher with an interest in the behavioral and cognitive aspects of film, media, and extended reality experiences. Currently, she investigates moving-image, virtual reality, and augmented reality experiences with a particular focus on cognition, embodiment, physiological reactions, decision-making, and social behavior. Her recently published doctoral thesis, Smartphone cinematics: A cognitive study of smartphone spectatorship discusses the psychological and technological mechanisms of interactive viewing on mobile devices.
The recent measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have confined millions to their homes and minimized social contacts. During this period, a significant proportion of social activities—including work, education, and recreation—moved to digital media platforms. Among these platforms, extended (virtual, augmented, and mixed) reality technologies (collectively: XR) have gained vital importance offering “alternative” realities in which users can engage with others, participate in cultural and sports events, complete education-related activities and (mental) health treatments, to name but a few functions.
Departing from the effects of the global lockdown on digital media use, I investigate XR’s health-related and societal aspects. Using the cases of social virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, I propose behavioral methods to study how XR platforms can simulate social experiences and how these experiences impact users’ well-being and behavior toward digitally created or manipulated human bodies.
Joakim Vindenes: A Postphenomenological Framework for Studying User Experience of Immersive Virtual Reality
Joakim is working across the Center for the Science of Learning & Technology (Faculty of Psychology) and the Department of Information and Media Studies (Faculty of Social Sciences) at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is currently finishing his dissertation on UX in VR from a postphenomenological perspective. His major interests are in qualitative studies on VR experience (e.g., VR go-along interviewing), VR Mind Palaces and User-Environment Relations.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a remarkably flexible technology for interventions as it allows the construction of virtual worlds with ontologies radically different from the real world. By embodying users in avatars situated in these virtual environments, researchers can effectively intervene and instil positive change in the form of therapy or education, as well as affect a variety of cognitive changes. Due to the capabilities of VR to mediate both the environments in which we are immersed, as well as our situated relation towards those environments, VR has become a powerful technology for “changing the self.” As the virtually mediated experience is what renders these interventions effective, frameworks are needed for describing and analysing the mediations brought by various virtual world designs. As a step towards a broader understanding of how VR mediates experience, we propose a postphenomenological framework for conducting studies on VR mediation. Postphenomenology is a philosophy of technology concerned with empirical data that understand technologies as mediators of human-world relationships. Drawing on postphenomenological theory, our framework presents considerations for VR researchers wanting to approach user experience in VR from a mediation perspective. By addressing how mediations occur within VR as a user-environment relation and outside VR as a human-world relation, the framework addresses the various constituents of the virtually mediated experience. We demonstrate the framework's applicability by presenting the results of an analysis of a selected variety of studies that intend various user-environment relations to mediate various human-world relations.
The presentation is extracted from a forthcoming article: Joakim Vindenes and Barbara Wasson, 'A Postphenomenological Framework for Studying User Experience of Immersive Virtual Reality', Frontiers in Virtual Reality
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 800259