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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathImmersion
Head-Mounted-Display (Sutherland, Ivan), 1968

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exceeds pure mimesis. To visualize complex systems, a goal of many artists, holds great new and creative potential for image technology. New image spaces for interactive art reception are being created that can be experienced polysensually. These facilitate processual situations and thus encourage aspects of performance. In this way, the categories of games and game theory acquire new meaning.


Since the late 1980s, a new generation of displays enable 3-D images. The Head Mounted Display (HMD), for example, or the more recent CAVE, convey to the user the impression of being immersed in the image space, of moving around in it in «real time,» and of being empowered to intervene in and modify the images. Although the idea of quantifying immersion (see SIGGRAPH conference) first appeared in the early 1990s in connection with so-called presence research (a quasi synonym for virtual reality research), the phenomenon of seeming to be present in the location of an image is much older. In spite of changing media technologies, the idea of a 360° image is an enduring


feature in the history of art and the media. A predominant characteristic of its development was on the one side the interplay of large format immersion spaces, which completely integrate the physical presence of the observer (rooms with 360° frescoes, the panorama, Stereopticon, Cinéorama, IMAX cinema, and the immersion methods of contemporary digital art, for example, the CAVE) and on the other, devices positioned immediately in front of the eyes (peep-show box, stereoscope, stereoscopic television, Sensorama, and more recently the HMD.) This is a history of frameless, even immeasurable images; the relationship of humans to these images is inextricably bound up with specific historical perception and media competence: the central phenomenon of immersion arises when work of art and advanced image apparatus, when message and medium, converge in an almost inseparable unity—the medium becomes invisible.

Dispositions of the observers

Immersive art is without doubt key for understanding the development of the media, although the concept may appear somewhat opaque and contradictory.

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