The Black community, since the release of many xenophobic and discriminatory films like D.W Griffin’s Birth of a Nation, has worked to create an appropriate presence and image in American culture. Primarily, movies during this time ridicule Black people and condemned them to be mere servants or mammies, thieves, robbers, murders or villains.
Ever since the Lumiere Brothers’ presented Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat to a wonderstruck live audience way back in 1896, film technology has changed gargantuanly and so too has its power. What was once thought of as nothing but a passing fad or a magician’s gimmick has exploded into what is now perhaps the most polarizing and popularly consumed medium of expression to both entertain and ideologically influence the human race.
The purpose of this video essay is to not only showcase the potential of VR Therapy, but to reflexively examine the manner in which immersion is a powerful tool that is best utilized in the virtual reality medium. The perception that one is present in an alternate reality is a common trait of cinema, but to use this phenomenon to promote healing of the mind and body is a beautiful notion.
In her 2004 book Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture, Vivian Sobchack explores numerous topics within a phenomenology of cinematic spectatorship, including depictions of disorientation in films, the role of technology in mediating one’s experience of their body, and the role of synaesthesia in empowering the embodied spectator.
Counter-cinemas offer a different mode of representation as opposed to mainstream Hollywood cinemas. Counter-cinemas intentionally break the norms of mainstream film techniques, and provide ways of breaking down their illusions of reality (Rushton 21). As Virtual Reality (VR) films are available now, Counter-cinemas have had more opportunity to push the limits of storytelling than traditional Counter-cimenas could have done.
With the multiplication and proliferation of new media such as virtual reality, the principles of avant-garde cinema have evolved through different cinematographic and narrative techniques. In my 360 VR Experimental Video Essay I gave examples of different avant-garde films through the years.
The lack of congruence between the presentation of VR and the reality, such as “participating” in activities that we have little control over in VR but would have control over in real life, shatters our sense of agency and limits our potential experience of immediacy. My thesis is established with the use of relevant sources in the first few minutes of my video essay.