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expressing «moto,» the passion of the soul. His skills served the goal of absolute mimesis, such that many of his life-size, terracotta figures wore real clothes and wigs and even had glass eyes.
Immersion has a history—unremarked by historians of art until now—which runs through the entire history of Western art and back as far as classical antiquity. Impressive examples of rooms with wall paintings that seem to extend the space and fuse physical with illusion space are found in Roman and Pompeian villas, such as the «Villa dei Misteri.» (I am not suggesting that these image spaces should be taken as some kind of starting point for this image tradition; nor is the evolution of media of illusion and immersion ever likely to reach an absolute end.) In this chamber dedicated to the cult of Dionysus, which was used for rites of initiation and rituals, the observer is surrounded by life-size, realistic figures, who seem to address the visitor and each other across the intervening space, communicating from wall to wall. The image space
functions as a portal, allowing gods to enter the supposedly real physical space and, vice versa, taking the portrayed human actors and the observer onto the same image level—it could be classed as a mixed ‹reality.› This strategy of immersion, initially visual, which was produced in the Villa dei Misteri with all the visual techniques known to this epoch, ‹opened› the boundary to the image space, integrated the observer into the scene, and conducted him or her into the ritual core of the mystery cult.
Similarly, the history of immersion can also be traced through the history of cinema. Even established greats of critical art, such as the Soviet avant-garde film director Sergei Eisenstein, appear in a new light if we examine their immersive visions. From the perspective of the 1940s, the film pioneer Eisenstein viewed his medium as the most elaborated image medium in a chain of development where art, science and technology were progressively merging together. In an essay written shortly before his death, «O Stereokino» (1947), Eisenstein emphasizes the long continuity of the