Exhibiting Virtual Bodies: The social, Cultural and Phenomenological impact of VR on the creative industries, edited by Dr Michael Saker and Dr Jordan Frith.
Virtual Reality (VR) is not a new technology by any stretch of the imagination. Regardless of how futuristic VR might appear in popular culture, VR encompasses a rich and varied history that began to surface in the 1980s and 1990s when VPL Research produced a number of commercial devices (e.g. the DataGlove and AuidoSphere). As exciting as these systems were, the technology simply could not live up to the hype (Evans, 2018). In reality, the level of ‘immersion’ associated with these developments was just not enough to fulfil the implicit promise of VR. Simply put, the available technology was not able to conjure an experience of being present in a digital world that felt in any way ‘real’ (Shields, 2005).
In contrast to the failed hype of its first few decades, contemporary VR is going through a marked ‘renaissance’ (Evans, 2018). Modern systems, such as the Oculus Quest and more recently the Oculus Quest 2, are not only far more affordable than earlier offerings, but these headsets also represent a new era of standalone VR. Significantly, the Quest and Quest 2 do not require powerful personal computer to run. Instead, the computer is effectively built into the headset itself. This ‘untethering’ (Saker and Frith, 2019), as it is commonly referred, not only allows for more immersive experiences free from trailing wires, but also establishes a more complex and ‘coextensive’ relationship between physical and digital space (Saker and Frith, 2020).
Today, VR is being adopted by a range of creative industries beyond video games. VR, for example, has been used by music festivals like Coachella to extend the experience beyond its spatial confines (Locke, 2017), just as journalists have utilised this technology to forge new ways for audiences to ‘step inside the story’ (Saker and Frith, 2019). Likewise, VR has been incorporated in a number of artistic settings, such as art museums (Wojciechowski et al., 2004), providing novel ways for audiences to engage with public exhibits. As Parker and Saker (2020) argue, the application of VR in these environments does more than just extend the experience of concomitant exhibits, it also challenges the traditional social norms that have been established in these spaces.
With the recent growth and renaissance of VR, now is a good time to more broadly explore how the technology is being used across various creative industries. This edited collection will bring together work in diverse areas of VR to explore different applications and implications of the recent growth of the technology. Consequently, this book invites chapter proposals that grapple with the various social, cultural and phenomenological implications of VR currently being employed in a range of industries within the creative sector, including but not limited to VR in
• Live music experiences
• Experimental art
• Transmedia projects
• Social applications
• Environmental applications
Proposals should include the contributor’s/author’s name, a brief biography, and an abstract of a maximum of 500 words (not counting citations. The editors will notify authors if their abstract is accepted, at which point the authors will eventually submit a chapter between 6000-8000 words in length. Please send proposals to Dr Michael Saker (Michael.Saker@city.ac.uk) or to Dr Jordan Frith (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The timeline for the project is:
- CFP deadline: 1st February 2021
- Communication of acceptance: 1st March 2021
- Chapter submission: June 1st 2021
- Editors' feedback: September 1st 2021
- Chapter resubmission: November 1st 2021
- Peer review feedback (assuming peer reviewers produce their review in a matter of days): December 1st 2021
- Final Manuscript submission: January 15th 2022
Evans, L (2018) The Re-Emergence of Virtual Reality. Abingdon: Routledge.
Locke, C (2017) Take a trip inside Coachella’s psychedelic 120-foot VR dome. Wired, 25 April. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2017/04/coachella-psychedelic-vr-dome/
Parker, E. and Saker, M. (2020) ‘Art museums and the incorporation of virtual reality: Examining the impact of VR on spatial and social norms’, Convergence, 26(5–6), pp. 1159–1173. doi: 10.1177/1354856519897251.
Saker, M. and Frith, J. (2020) ‘Coextensive space: virtual reality and the developing relationship between the body, the digital and physical space’, Media, Culture & Society, 42(7–8), pp. 1427–1442. doi: 10.1177/0163443720932498.
Saker M, Frith J. (2019) From hybrid space to dislocated space: Mobile virtual reality and a third stage of mobile media theory. New Media & Society, 21(1):214-228. doi:10.1177/1461444818792407
Shields, R (2005) The Virtual. Abingdon: Routledge.
Wojciechowski, R, Walczak, K, White, M, et al. (2004, April) Building virtual and augmented reality museum exhibitions. In: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on 3D Web Technology. New York: ACM, pp. 135–144.