Virtual technologies of understanding: mediating place, social problems and embodied experience

Authors: Linnea Saltin*,
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: virtual reality, virtual, place, construction, embodiement, user
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bourbon Room, Astor, Mezzanine
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The debate on and discussion of the virtual in human geography appears to be a never ending conversation. As Virtual Reality (VR) is expected to move from the extraordinary to the everyday with the spreading of virtual technology hardware, understanding the construction of places in and through VR becomes all the more urgent. New technologies open up questions about what can be mediated. With this paper, I set out to create a theoretical framework for studying the construction of VR experiences with an agenda of bringing about social change. With current imaginings of VR includes phantasies of making us able to reach places far away in the world, but also the worlds within other people. The site of production becomes a key locus for understanding this quest of mediating inner worlds as well as exterior geographies. The distilling process of both place and social problems into a virtual space imbued with meanings and insights to be realized on user demand, might be understood as an endeavor to find the essence not only of place, social issues but also lived embodied experience. I will examine different ways of theorizing the sites of production of VR, how producers of VR go about this process and what post-human literacies and expectations this places on the user. Combining perspectives on technology as spatial – involving geographical processes of place-making, orientation and the spatial logics and limitations of VR as a foundation for ethnographic fieldwork, this contributes to the field of virtual and hybrid geographies.

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