360 Degree Immersion Re(turn)

 Dr Sara Diamond, President & Vice-Chancellor Ord. Ontario; RCA
As interest in immersive media mounts it is possible that singular and
simplified origin accounts may propagate.  Instead, let’s remember the
complex role that artists played in the emergence of VR and its
progeny.  What can we learn from early, creative investigations of
virtual reality?  The Banff Centre in Canada began creative
exploration in art and virtual environments through the Bioapparatus
residency (Richards & Tennhaff, 1991)) with its peak explorations
during the Art and Virtual Environments program of the early 1990s
(Moser & MacLeod, 1996. This lecture will discuss precedents in VR
creative research in the 1990s, placing the broader Canadian
contribution which included the National Film Board and SoftImage’s
Char Davies, into the international context of Germany, France, the
USA and Mexico. It will underscore the dynamic interface of
engineering, computer science and creative research. It will discuss
the divergence from – into visualization and augmented reality – and
persistence of creative VR research.  It will trace the transition
from interest in VR to visualization, 3D imaging and the current
return to VR/AR/360 video, mixed reality and immersive media. The talk will connect some of the current key trends of critical consideration of immersive media and trace connections and disconnections relevant to the VR decade of the 1990s.


Representations of the World’s Sensorium in the Olfactory Brain

Gayil Nalls, PhD

The sense of smell and naturally occurring odors in the environment are part of a chemical framework that encompasses the natural world and plays a role in every facet of human life. The chemically mediated senses of smell and taste allow us to obtain meaningful and objective information about the world. These chemical interactions play a primary role in structuring our thoughts, memories, and broader consciousness.
We sense the external world through internal neuronal representations in the brain. Because of olfaction’s unique attributes, many commercial entities are now attempting to integrate odor cues into artificial communication and entertainment environments such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (VR/AR). The addition of scent is having a substantial impact on the magnitude of immersion that is experienced in AR/VR; however, little is known about the collective emotional and psychological impact of odor stimuli as more and more people come in contact with virtual systems, nor has the safe, ethical, and sustainable use of these aromatic compounds been established.
The aim of this paper is to suggest a strategy for identifying the most promising and safe raw materials to integrate olfactory information into AR/VR and other technology and communication systems. To address this, I draw on my ethnographic research to create and scientifically contextualize a chemical art object, World Sensorium, consisting of a world scent composed of culturally associative aromatic compounds derived from select plant species from around the world, to provide insight into how the evolution and qualitative character of the human olfactory experience that has shaped the global cultural sensorium. Through World Sensorium, olfaction is explored as a medium of memory, communication, and emotion, to create an artwork that has positive meaning for a vast number of people across the globe. Each chemical constituent in this world scent is associated with unique neural imprints that are central to the transmission of cultural and aesthetic values.
Furthermore, and of critical significance, the paper suggests that aromatic chemicals introduced into VR/AR scent environments ought to be cautiously evaluated for their impact on their users as well as on broader human health and the environment.
Keywords— World Sensorium, world scent, olfaction, smell, aroma, odor, essential oils, culture, aromatic chemicals, chemical composition, fragrance chemicals, virtual reality, augmented reality, virtual systems, consciousness, immersive environments


Take Back Your Body

Daria Dorosh, PhD

This paper considers the status of the body as we journey deeper into technological territory. The body is at the center of a multiplex system of intersecting realities. Our physiology, memory, imagination, dream space, and subconscious is informed by our sense of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Our mental, psychical, and physical abilities imply that each of us presides over a powerful intelligence that is vested in the body.  What do we actually know about our own body? How is digital technology shifting the value of the body? Has the body been monetized, and if so, what options do we have to take back our body? Why does it matter now?

Keywords—body, subconscious, reality, ethics, ecology, Tshirt, fashion, technology, health, economics.