Immersion, Interactivity and Altered Realities

Moderated by: Derick Ostrenko and Victoria Szabo
Date and Time: February 26, 2021

New York, USA Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Los Angeles, USA Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 1:00 pm PST
UTC, Time Zone Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 9:00 pm

  View the Recording of the Session: https://vimeo.com/529545037

Session Description:

The 2nd SPARKS online Zoom discussion, Immersion, Interactivity and Altered Realities, will feature 10 presenters who have responded to the topic of past & present trajectories of immersive media experiences & experiments, as well as the evolving influence of reality altering innovation on art and culture. We will offer a journey through artworks distinguished by totality at the interface of art and consciousness. Following the presentations of the three-minute lightning talks, the zoom audience is encouraged to engage in moderated discussion.

  • How have the affordances of immersive reality technology changed?
  • What are the challenges to creating immersive media artwork?
  • What is the next horizon for extended reality in art and culture?

Further Questions to Consider:

  • What does immersive reality technology afford artists today?
  • How does the changing landscape of immersive technology impact the ability of artists to work creatively in the field?
  • Is it possible to create persistent immersive experiences? Or are they all inevitably performative and ephemeral? How should we document such work?
  • What is the impact of relying upon commercial tools, systems, and partners to create and share immersive artwork?
  • How does the practice of immersive reality experience design impact other forms of art marking and cultural production?
  • What is the impact of the global pandemic on how we understand and experience immersive reality?
  • How can we approach questions of accessibility for immersive reality – physical accessibility to interfaces, and economic and social access to authoring environments, equipment, expertise?
  • What does the art world have to offer developers creating immersive reality tools and systems?
Aesthetics of Immersion
Brooke Belisle     

Prefacing the presentations of AR and VR projects that will follow, I offer a framework for thinking about the aesthetics of immersive media. By drawing on a range of historical examples, I show how immersive aesthetics communicate specific assumptions not only about the goals of representation, but also about how we are already sensuously embedded within a world that exceeds our senses.

Art News – A History of Presence

I Am Not A Virus
Chanee Choi     

Making ‘Pandemic’ the Art Game that Confronts Xenophobia and Bigotry Online and in Reality.

Website: https://chaneec.com/

Merging Spaces
Rachel Clarke     

My work intertwines themes of nature, culture, and technology, with an eco-feminist slant. My work is about shifting consciousness; I use technology to visualize other ways of thinking, knowing, and understanding the world.


RhumbLine: Plectrohyla Exquisita
Robert Cosgrove      Nick Hwang      Margaret Schedel     

Portending a dystopic future in which acoustic ecology is encountered only through the mechanical reproduction of environmental sounds, the sounds of this installation are created by a chorus of robotic frogs—a recognition of the catastrophic global population declines amphibians are facing. The virtual environment the robotic frogs inhabit, divided into two web pages, invites visitors to become temporary members of this fragile ecosystem.

Journeys in VR
Margaret Dolinsky     

My virtual reality, now extended reality, makes use of AR, VR, 3D prototyping, and stereoscopic photography. I will show the CAVE as it was in the 90s and how it looks today, a transition from the playfulness of early computer graphics and immersive presence to the seriousness of high resolution photography and its technoecological entanglements.

Sedimental Journey (excerpt) c.2020 on Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/461626223

Sound Sculpture, A Location-Aware Musical Instrument
Ryan Edwards     

Sound Sculpture is an interactive sound and light instrument. 25 location-aware blocks comprise a massive, wireless midi controller. Each cube represents a note in spatial dimension and time, and the public’s interaction and placement of the cubes create musical structures.

How to Make Immersive Technologies More Equitable: Confronting the Medium’s Colonial Legacies
Anna Gedal     

At the intersection of cultural storytelling and immersive technologies, my research addresses the medium’s limitations and explores its possibilities. What are the ways emerging media offers us new spaces for community healing and historical justice?

Darcy’s Painting and Sculpture Garden in AltspaceVR
Darcy Gerbarg     

Creating Art that’s digital from end to end: real and virtual. New ways to create and experience Art. Participants are welcome to visit the AltspaceVR site as avatars.



All Her Bodies

All Her Bodies, an experimental VR experience, uses volumetric filmmaking and gaze interaction to immerse you in the stories of five women recounting intimate and powerful memories of violence.


Challenging Technocratic Power: Trespassing in the Parallel Digital Universe
Heather Snyder Quinn     

Mariah is a site-specific augmented reality experience involving social justice and the law. She re-augments history with the truth and speculates possible futures

Mariah is available in the Apple App Store:

Read about Mariah in the Washington Post: https://wapo.st/3UwKC0Q
and in Hyperallergic:


Derick Ostrenko

Frederick “Derick” Ostrenko is a media artist and Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU). He holds a joint-appointment in the Digital Art concentration at the School of Art and the Cultural Computing research group at the Center for Computation and Technology (CCT). Derick creates physical and virtual systems that examine the intersections of media, culture, and technology. He employs custom hardware and software that use various interfaces such as mobile applications, brain waves, generative visualizations, video processing, animation, and games. His research focuses on pushing art and technology to reveal hidden networks between people by creating structures for innovative forms of expression and discovery. Derick received his MFA in Digital+Media from the Rhode Island School of Design. Derick is a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community Committee.

Victoria Szabo

Victoria Szabo is a Research Professor of Visual and Media Studies at Duke University. She is also graduate faculty in the Computational Media, Arts & Cultures PhD program, directs the MA in Digital Art History/Computational Media, the Information Science + Studies certificate and lab, the Digital Humanities Initiative at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, and partners in the Wired Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture. She is a member of the international Visualizing Cities collaborative, and is a partner in the Psychasthenia Studio art collective. Her work focuses on digital archives, exhibitions, and immersive media, with special interests in augmented reality, digital storytelling, and games for cultural heritage and creative expression. She teaches courses in media history, digital places and spaces, digital humanities, and historical and cultural visualization. She has a PhD in English from the University of Rochester. Victoria is Chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Art Community Committee.