Narratives of Ocular experience in Interactive 360° Environments

  • Jeremiah Ambrose

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of this research project was to examine how immersive digital virtual technologies have the potential to expand the genre of interactive film into new forms of audience engagement and narrative production. Aside from addressing the limitations of interactive film, I have explored how interactive digital narratives can be reconfigured in the wake of immersive media. My contribution to knowledge stems from using a transdisciplinary synthesis of the interactive systems in film and digital media art, which is embodied in the research framework and theoretical focal point that I have titled Cynematics
    (chapter 2).

    Using a methodology that promotes iterative experimentation I developed a series of works that allowed me to practically explore the limitations of interactive film systems that involve non-haptic user interaction. This is evidenced in the following series of works: Virtual Embodiment, Narrative Maze, Eye Artefact Interactions and Routine Error – all of which are discussed in chapter 4 of this thesis. Each of these lab experiments collectively build towards the development of novel interactive 360° film practices. Funneling my research towards these underexplored processes I focused on virtual gaze interaction
    (chapters 4-6), aiming to define and historically contextualise this system of interaction, whilst critically engaging with it through my practice. It is here that gaze interaction is cemented as the key focus of this thesis.

    The potential of interactive 360° film is explored through the creation of three core pieces of practice, which are titled as follows: Systems of Seeing (chapter 5), Mimesis (chapter 6), Vanishing Point (chapter 7). Alongside the close readings in these chapters and the theoretical developments explored in each are the interaction designs included in the appendix of the thesis. These provide useful context for readers unable to experience these site-specific installations as virtual reality applications. After creating these systems, I established terms to theoretically unpack some of the processes occurring within them. These include Datascape Mediation (chapter 2), which frames agency as a complex entanglement built on the constantly evolving relationships between human and machine – and Live-Editing Practice (chapter 7), which aims to elucidate how the interactive 360° film practice designed for this research leads to new way of thinking about how we design, shoot and interact with 360° film.

    Reflecting on feedback from exhibiting Mimesis I decided to define and evaluate the key modes of virtual gaze interaction, which led to the development of a chapter and concept referred to as The Reticle Effect (chapter 6). This refers to how a visual overlay that is used to represent a user’s line of sight not only shapes their experience of the work, but also dictates their perception of genre. To navigate this, I combined qualitative and quantitative analysis to explore user responses to four different types of gaze interaction. In preparing to collect this data I had to articulate these different types of interaction, which served to demarcate the difference between each of these types of gaze interaction. Stemming from this I used questionnaires, thematic analysis and data visualisation to explore the use and response to these systems. The results of this not only supports the idea of the reticle effect, but also gives insight into how these different types of virtual gaze interaction shape whether these works are viewed as games or as types of interactive film. The output of this allowed me to further expand on interactive 360° film as a genre of immersive media and move beyond the realm of interactive film into new technological discourses, which serves to validate the nascent, yet expansive reach of interactive 360° film as a form of practice.

    The thesis is concluded by framing this research within the wider discourse of posthuman theory as given that the technologies of immersive media perpetuate a state of extended human experience – how we interact and consider the theories that surround these mediums needs to be considered in the same way. The practice and theory developed throughout this thesis contribute to this discourse and allow for new ways of considering filmic language in the wake of interactive 360° film practice.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorPaul Sermon (Supervisor) & Sarah Atkinson (Supervisor)

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