A Move Towards Immersion

Immersive technologies are currently taking over the film industry to such a great degree that film festivals all over the world instate special categories to award these new types of works. One example is film director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s CARNE y ARENA, which has been proclaimed everything from a virtual reality film to a virtual reality installation. Andrey Tarkovsky once argued how film is ‘sculpting in time’ (1986;1989). In addition to this, the present research project proposes that we need to expand the filmic arts to sculpting in spacethrough the cinematic use of immersive technologies and corresponding embodimentof the spectator. 

In The Art of Immersion (2012), Frank Rose stated how “people have always wanted to (…) inhabit the stories that move them. The only real variable is whether technology gives them that opportunity” (p. 88). However, the current development and use of immersive technologies within the arts and popular culture is still in what might be termed a ‘transitional stage’ (Pausch et al, 1996; Slater & Sanchez-Vives, 2016). As film were originally another way to present theatre, film producers needed to develop their own grammarand ways of storytelling unique to the medium (Pausch et al, 1996). When films were increasingly found in venues specifically built for the purpose of screening them, the exhibition practice of cinema started to gain special attention from theorists including Jean-Louis Baudry (1975), Gilles Deleuze (1992) and Raymond Bellour (2013) who sought to explore the combinatory effect of film viewing technologies and spatial architecture creating a homogenous relationship between the spectator and the film. Today it remains unknown what will become the future venues of XR Cinema and how the use of immersive technologies is radically changing production, distribution and exhibition modes thus engaging our bodies and minds in completely novel ways.Therefore, this PhD project intends to fill this gap by mapping and analysing how the current use of immersive technologies in cinematic experiences expands the possibilities of traditional cinemaand consequently developing methodologies for venue-specific implementation.


Baudry, J-L. (1975). “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinema Apparatus” in: Film Quarterly, 28, 2, 39-47. 

Bellour, R. (2013). “Cinema, Alone” / Multiple “Cinemas” in: Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 5 (Summer). Available at: http://www.alphavillejournal.com/Issue5/HTML/ArticleBellour.html– Accessed April 2019. 

Deleuze, Gilles. (1992). “What is a dispositif?” in: Armstrong, T.J. (ed) Michel Foucault, Philosopher. New York: Routledge. 

Pausch, R., Snoddy, J., Taylor, R., Watson, S., and Haseltine, E. (1996). “Disney’s Aladdin: first steps toward storytelling in virtual reality,” in: Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (New Orleans: ACM), 193–203. 

Rose, Frank. (2012). The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Slater Mel; Sanchez-Vives, Maria V. (2016). “Enhancing Our Lives with Immersive Virtual Reality” in:  Frontiers in Robotics and AI, vol. 3. doi: 10.3389/frobt.2016.00074         

Tarkovsky, Andrey. (1986;1989). Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.