Hello, I'm writing to announce the publication of my new book, The Immersive Enclosure: Virtual Reality in Japan, out this week from Columbia University Press. Please find the description and a discount code below.
The Immersive Enclosure: Virtual Reality in Japan
Although virtual reality promises to immerse a person in another world, its true power lies in its ability to sever a person’s spatial situatedness in this one. This is especially clear in Japan, where the VR headset has been embraced as a way to block off existing social environments and reroute perception into more malleable virtual platforms. Is immersion just another name for enclosure?
In this groundbreaking analysis of virtual reality, Paul Roquet uncovers how the technology is reshaping the politics of labor, gender, home, and nation. He examines how VR in Japan diverged from American militarism and techno-utopian visions and became a tool for renegotiating personal space. Individuals turned to the VR headset to immerse themselves in three-dimensional worlds drawn from manga, video games, and genre literature. The Japanese government promised VR-operated robots would enable a new era of remote work, targeting those who could not otherwise leave home. Middle-aged men and corporate brands used VR to reimagine themselves through the virtual bodies of anime-styled teenage girls. At a time when digital platforms continue to encroach on everyday life, The Immersive Enclosure takes a critical look at these attempts to jettison existing social realities and offers a bold new approach for understanding the media environments to come.
The Immersive Enclosure is timely in the most profound sense: it offers a glimpse of a future that we need to act upon now in order to address its potential pitfalls, which include the wholesale commercial mediation of experience. Paul Roquet does a brilliant job of drawing on the culturally specific case of Japan's uptake of VR to provide insights of universal relevance and urgent importance as we confront the prospect that reality itself is becoming the next frontier of the surveillance economy. - Mark Andrejevic, author of Automated Media
Paul Roquet’s timely book offers a refreshing new take on VR as a consumer technology. Situating the development of VR within Japan’s robust media networks of anime, manga, visual novels, and video games, he deftly illuminates the ways VR is also seen as a panacea to the country’s shrinking labor force. - Yuriko Furuhata, author of Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control
This book is a must-read for scholars in media studies and general readers alike fascinated by the flawed revolutionary potential of VR. Roquet makes a powerful case for attending to the cultural and aesthetic conditions of possibility necessary for embracing virtual reality. - James J. Hodge, author of Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art
Immersive Enclosure tells a startlingly different story about VR. Working expertly across discourses, technologies, and fantasies about virtual reality in Japan, Roquet reveals a homology between the structuring of perceptual space and social space that utterly challenges our understanding of the past and future of VR media. The urgent question emerges with breathtaking clarity: what to make of a collective desire for one-person space? - Thomas Lamarre, author of The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media
Paul Roquet is associate professor of media studies and Japan studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Ambient Media: Japanese Atmospheres of Self (2016).
The book is available from Columbia University Press at 20% off with the code CUP20.