In 1978, a number of film scholars gathered at a conference in Brighton to re-evaluate the early days of film in terms of a developing new medium on it’s own terms rather than though the lens of a mature narrative and storytelling communications medium. These early experimental days of film were referred to as the “cinema of attractions” by scholars like Tom Gunning, André Gaudreault, Charles Musser, and Richard Abel because these early film experiments that were focused more on showing and exhibiting something while breaking the fourth wall to make a direct connection to the audience.
Rebecca Rouse is an assistant professor of communication & media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and she was inspired to take insights from the cinema of attractions scholarship and apply it to virtual and augmented reality in a more generalized framework she calls “media of attraction.” She identifies four characteristics of an emerging medium in that they’re unassimilated, interdisciplinary, seamed, and participatory. I caught up with Rouse at the IEEE VR conference to unpack her insights about what VR can learn from the early days of film, the evolution of other immersive communication mediums before VR, and whether or not VR is really all that different from other mediums from a historical and media theory perspective.
LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
- Media of Attraction: A Media Archeology Approach to Panoramas, Kinematography, Mixed Reality and Beyond by Rebecca Rouse
- The cinema of attraction: early film, its spectator and the avant-garde by Tom Gunning
- Film and Attraction: From Kinematography to Cinema by André Gaudreault
- The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907 by Charles Musser
- French Film Theory and Criticism: A History/Anthology by Richard Abel
- Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion by Oliver Grau
- The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium by Stephan Oettermann
- Remediation: Understanding New Media by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin
- New Philosophy for New Media by Mark B. N. Hansen
- What Do Pictures Want by W.J.T. Mitchell
This is a listener supported podcast, considering making a donation to the Voices of VR Podcast Patreon