University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

New Grad Seminar Course: Theories of Immersion

November 11, 2010  by: Dom

Theories of Immersion
Graduate Seminar – Spring 2011 Term
VS 500, Reg # 036386
North Campus, Room 606, Clemen

Opinions are divided on the notion of immersion. Some assume it to be a by-product of the so-called “New Media” and the particular qualities set out by the apparatus itself, which enables those media to simulate an environment into which the viewer or user may insert him- or herself as a foreign body. In the context of this school of thought, one that recalls the impetus behind André Bazin’s “Myth of Total Cinema,” the synthetic spatial properties of such media are paramount. Thus technological developments are seen as key to an every more plastic experience.

However another school of thought sees immersion not only in /virtual reality /but also as part of literary experience. Marie-Laure Ryan, for example, instead highlights the various kinds of activities, which the user/reader/viewer is called upon to perform:“The difference in behavior between VR and literature is seen to reside in the participation of the body. While textual worlds are created through a purely mental semiotic activity, which presupposes an external point of view, the worlds of VR are created from within through an activity both mental and physical. A mind may conceive a world from the outside, but a body always experiences it from the inside.“

In this seminar we will read texts by Marie-Laure Ryan, Michael Fried, Espen Aarseth, Janet Murray, Lev Manovich and others in order to consider the specific ramifications of the experience of film, video, IMAX, the computer game, painting, installation und literature. In addition several excursions will take place during the semester, which will allow us to consider the effects produced by these and other media.

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Vimeo
  • Follow us on Instagram