Immersive Geographies: Virtual Reality (VR) for social & political change

Authors: Daniel Bos*,
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: Virtual Reality, Immersion, Affect, Digital Geographies, Activism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper explores the ways Virtual Reality (VR) is being used - and experimented with - by organisations for the purposes of social and political change. While the development and use of VR technologies has a longer history (Hillis 1998), technological advancements, increased accessibility and affordability are enabling the wide-spread usage of VR within Western consumer society. Such technologies enclose users in deeply immersive and interactive computer-generated environments which offer profoundly novel audio-visual and fully embodied experiences. Despite growing scholarly interest in their application for entertainment purposes, there has been limited appreciation into the ways VR is being actively used to draw awareness to key global political issues, such as global warming, migration and conflict. This paper will consider the immersive qualities of VR experiences and how they set out to alter spatial temporal imaginations which aim to enhance empathy in regards to political issues and vulnerable populations. In order to do so I will critically explore how individuals and organisations including; artists, charities and political organisations are using the immersive qualities of VR to influence and persuade, but also to contest and disrupt relations of power and to constitute new political attitudes and subjectivities.

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