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The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art

After VR: the archaeology and potential of immersive media Event

Helen W Kennedy using VR
13:00 - 18:00
1 November 2017
Harvard Lecture Theatre, WSA

For more information regarding this event, please email Dr Seth Giddings at .

Event details

Taking the recent revival in commercial, popular, and academic interest in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and applications as a prompt and a provocation, this event will present current research on the genealogies, realities, and imaginaries of immersive media in art, industry and popular culture before and after the screen.

A symposium at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton on Wednesday 1st November, hosted by the Transforming Creativity research group and AMT (Archaeologies of Media and Technology research group) .

Speakers will include:

Jenna Ng (University of York)
Helen W Kennedy (University of Brighton)
Michael Goddard (University of Westminster)

The event will be convened by Seth Giddings, with Jussi Parikka as respondent

Jenna Ng -  VR in the Zone

In his book, Zona , Geoff Dyer describes the immersiveness of the world created by Andrei Tarkovsky’s cinema as one so encompassing that “we are not even in a cinema; we are in a world. Or, rather, there is nothing but cinema; there is only the Zone.” In Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (and The Roadside Picnic , the novel on which the film is loosely based), the Zone is a space – a space of, as it turns out, damp, mysterious wasteland – to which one follows the Stalker in order to realise one’s innermost dreams. However, one realises in the end the Zone can never be reached; it exists only by virtue of its elusiveness. I argue that the immersiveness of VR is of the same vein: it is ostensibly omnipresent and the realisation of perfect simulation, but ultimately exists only by virtue of its unbreachable distance and our unsated desire to try to get to it.

Jenna Ng is Anniversary Research Lecturer in Film and Interactive Media at the University of York. She works primarily on theoretical, cultural and critical analyses of digital media and visualisation, with particular interests in the imaging technologies of digital video, mobile media, haptic devices, motion and virtual capture systems. She is the editor of Understanding Machinima: essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds (Bloomsbury Academic Press 2013) and is currently completing a monograph on the digital mobile camera, titled Portable I: vision and the mobile camera in contemporary digital media, which examines the visual fields of mobile imaging technologies (such as smartphones; drones; space rovers; and virtual cameras) through ideas of telepresence, simulacra and screen engagement.

Michael Goddard -  Towards a Genealogy of Audiovision: From Expanded Cinemas to Virtual Reality

This talk will outline the research project I am conducting into genealogies of audiovision and virtuality, which sees virtual reality as part of  continuum of audiovisual experimentation at the margins of dominant media like film and television. Using audiovision in both Zielinski’s media archaeological sense and Chion’s synaesthetic approach, it will examine some precursors of contemporary virtual reality from the era of expanded cinema and the beginnings of video, especially in the work of Alberto Grifi.

Michael Goddard is Reader in Film, Television and Moving Image in the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster. He has published widely on Polish and international cinema and audiovisual culture as well as cultural and media theory. He recently published a book, Impossible Cartographies on the cinema of Raúl Ruiz. He has also been doing research on the fringes of popular music focusing on groups such as The Fall, Throbbing Gristle and Laibach and culminating in editing two books on noise, Reverberations and Resonances . He is currently completing a research project, Guerrilla Networks , examining radical media ecologies in film, TV, radio and radical politics in the 1970s from a media archaeological perspective.

Helen W Kennedy  - Change for the Machines: the knotted flesh and broken promises of Virtual Reality

Drawing on a range of resources – fictional and non-fiction – this talks examines the distance between an embodied experience of contemporary Virtual Reality,  the rhetoric that surrounds it and the technological imaginary that attempts to close the gap.   This talk will also consider work by artists that foreground and explore this distance as part of their creative practice.

Helen Kennedy is Head of the School of Media at the University of Brighton. Her research is focused on technology, aesthetics and embodied perception in relation to games and play. Helen is an active member of the Women in Games (WiG) steering committee and has helped to organise conferences and network events since its inauguration in 2004. She has published widely on games culture and has organised a range of game related initiatives from the first UK International conference on games in 2001 to the first all-female games jam in 2012.

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