States of Immersion: Bodies, Media Technologies

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Philippe Bédard
contact email: 

Call for papers: States of Immersion: Bodies, Media Technologies 

Edited collection — Estimated publication 2023

Over five days in October 2020, the conference “Immersivity and Technological Innovations” brought together more than fifty researchers and artists to address questions raised by virtual reality and, more broadly, by immersive media. To tackle the question of media immersivity and its related technological innovations, event participants addressed subjects ranging from the different “ramas” (panoramas, cyclorama, circorama, sensorama, etc.) to artificial intelligence through to a range of extended realities (augmented, virtual, mixed, etc.). The presentations questioned the ‘innovative’ nature of contemporary immersive media, by foregrounding a historical perspective often missing from industry discourses. While the latter continues to feed the fantasy of an ever-more-total immersion, we seek instead to propose a reflection on the role of the body, the media and the technologies of the development of immersion.

The organizing committee of the conference “Immersivity and Technological Innovations” is seeking contributions to bring together our reflections on all types of immersive experiments in a collective work. This proposed edited collection was presented to Santiago Hidalgo, co-director of the collection “Cinema and Technology” (Amsterdam University Press), who confirmed his interest.

Understanding contemporary immersive forms requires a range of approaches aimed at decoding the notion of immersivity through its different sociohistorical, disciplinary, technological and artistic contexts. It is also essential to develop a better understanding of the formation of media fantasies based on the appeal of immersion. How has the notion of immersivity been informed by art history, literature, cinema and video game studies? Do contributions from the field of design and applied sciences map easily onto these conceptions of immersion? What can past experiments in immersive media teach us about this (as yet unfulfilled) fantasy of totally immersive virtual experiences? What roles do bodies, spaces and narrative play in fostering and maintaining immersivity? What are the aesthetic aims of works that take advantage of the latest immersive technologies? What purposes do immersive technologies serve? Have virtual reality and other contemporary avatars of immersion managed, as these practices have become more professionalized, and despite their relatively slow adoption by the general public, to define their frames? Finally, can we recognize, within the emergent and specific conventions of these new forms, techniques of spatialization and storytelling that originate in ancient forms of immersive visual spaces, to use Oliver Grau’s expression?

In the context of the edited collection States of Immersion, we seek contributions that will foster a dialogue between the corporeal, affective and technological aspects of immersion. We encourage proposals that question the novelty of immersivity and those that propose new ways of looking at “immersive” forms of media. We invite contributions that address these issues from one or more of the following perspectives (including but not necessarily limited to):

  • (Pre-)history of immersive media (panoramas, cinéorama, sensorama, cinerama, etc.).
  • The limits of immersivity (challenges and flaws).
  • Psychological and cognitive approaches to the concept of immersivity.
  • The place of the body (agency, incorporation, presence, senses, affect).
  • Large formats (from Monet’s Nymphéas to IMAX).
  • Situating immersivity (sites, spaces and immersive locations).
  • Suspension of disbelief (automatons, conversational agents, Artificial Intelligence)
  • Creating immersivity (screenwriting, programming and the creation of immersive experiences).
  • Economic and logistical challenges of immersivity.
  • Institutionalization of immersive media forms.
  • (Photo)realism and other conventions.
  • Immersive systems in education or training scenarios (medical, military, etc.).
  • Accessibility and safety (universal and inclusive approaches to mediated immersivity).

  Beyond the traditional format of academic essays, we welcome suggestions for other types of reflections, such as interviews with artists working in immersive media or other forms of intellectual engagement that we have not listed here.If you have an idea for content, we’re all ears! 

Other information

In addition to the edited collection, we are considering other possibilities for the submissions, depending on the number of proposals we receive and in which language. These include the possibility of a special issue of a journal, depending on the thematic connections across the proposals.  

Submissions

The submission process will have two stages:

  1. First, please submit your proposals to immersivite@gmail.com by July 15, 2021 with the following details: 1) Title; 2) a 500-word proposal + 50 word bio; 3) three key references; 4) up to five keywords; 5) the language in which you would like to submit the text (English and/or French).

Responses will be sent in September.

  1. Full papers (25,000-35,000 characters including spaces, excluding bibliography) must be submitted for review by December 1, 2021. Submissions may be sent to immersivite@gmail.com.

Editorial Committee

Philippe Bédard (Carleton University), Alanna Thain (McGill University) and Carl Therrien (Université de Montréal).