Julia Scott-Stevenson got her practice-based Ph.D. on interactive and immersive documentaries (aka “i-docs”) and social impact with her i-doc Giving Time. She’s now a research fellow of interactive factual media at the Digital Cultures Research Center at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and she produces the i-Docs Symposium that’s coming up on March 25-27, 2020.
Scott-Stevenson was also an Immersion Fellow in the South West Creative Technology Network where she received grant money that she used to travel to different film festivals to see the latest immersive documentary narrative experiments. It’s from this experience that she decided to write up five experiential design tips into a pieced called “Manifesto: Virtual Futures: A Manifesto for Immersive Experiences.” Here are the five major points of her VR manifesto with some annotations for how I see each of these points fit into the experiential design process.
- Stage an encounter — See also: connection, conversation [Me: Mental & Social Presence]
- Be wild: Bewilderment is powerful — See also: Joy, awe [Me: Character of Experience]
- Move from being to doing — See also: agency, interaction, control [Me: Active Presence]
- Embody the future — See also: bodies, voices [Me: Embodied Presence]
- Care: the participants matter — Onboarding. Offboarding. [Me: Context switch from IRL to Magic Circle]
Scott-Stevenson also shared a number of pointers to different critical theorists & philosophers including Levinas on encounters, Sarah Pink on Digital Ethnography & tracking how people use technology, how Visual Sociology uses photography & documentary as a form of anthropological documentation, Sharon Clark on immersive theater, Jeremy Bailenson’s work with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and Mel Slater’s work with University of Barcelona’s EVENT Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology).
Some of definitions of documentary that Scott-Stevenson finds informative include:
- John Grierson: “Creative treatment of actuality.”
- Bill Nichols: “Discourses of Sobriety”
- Dirk Eitzen: “A documentary is any motion picture that is susceptible to the question ‘Might it be lying?'”
We also talk about about what is and is not an immersive documentary, and whether the definition is changing and evolving. We also talk about how to tell the story of a place, and how there may not be just one singular, central grand narrative. She’s been collaborating with South West Creative Technology Network fellow Coral Manton on an augmented reality app that tries to show many different perspectives on a single location or artifact.
Finally, the biggest issue that she sees that we’re facing is global climate change, and she’s hoping that the immersive and interactive documentaries can help to find new ways to tell the social, environmental, and social impact stories on issues that matter. Perhaps these types of experiences can find new ways to engage and reach new audiences, and help to tell new stories in a way that inspires people to make incremental changes in their behaviors.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
Here are the Immersion prototypes from the South West Creative Technology Network:
Here’s Sarah Pink talking about Digital Ethnography
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So continuing on my series of looking at some of the narrative innovations that were coming out of the IDFA DocLab in Amsterdam, today's conversation I have is with Julia Scott-Stevenson. She's currently a Research Fellow of Interactive Factual Media at the Digital Cultures Research Center at the Uni of West of England in Bristol. So Julia Scott-Stevenson is somebody who eventually got her PhD in interactive and immersive documentaries, and she talks about her whole journey into how she came to be an academic researching this. But she got this fellowship within the Southwest Creative Technology Network that is in the United Kingdom. they had a number of different fellows come together. The first one was around immersion, the current one around AI and automation, and then one that's coming up here on data and telling stories around data. But Julia was a part of this cohort of like 27 fellows that were doing a whole deep dive into immersion from this perspective of creative technology. So all these creative technologists in the southwest of UK were getting grant money to be able to do different explorations. And so she decided to use her grant money to travel around to a lot of these different film festivals to just see what kind of work was being produced by creators from around the world. She actually went to a lot of different festivals that I ended up going to as well. So she ended up seeing a lot of the similar work that I've been seeing on this film festival circuit. And so after she had seen a lot of stuff, she realized that she was seeing some different design principles and she decided to sit down and write a manifesto about the virtual futures, a manifesto for immersive experiences coming up with like five different principles that she thought were going to be good for people who were starting to design immersive experiences. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Julia happened on Sunday, November 24th, 2019 at the IDFA doc lab in Amsterdam, Netherlands. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:02:08.372] Julia Scott Stevenson: I'm Julia Scott-Stevenson, I'm a Research Fellow in Interactive Factual Media at the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the Uni of the West of England in Bristol, and I work on a few different things, primarily a research project and network called iDocs, which is short for Interactive and Immersive Documentary. and we do a few things. We run a symposium every two years where we bring together academics, practitioners and everybody straddling that kind of line in between and we get them to show their work and talk about what they're researching. We have other events in between and we just generally keep up to date on what's happening in immersive and interactive non-fiction. So I kind of keep tabs on who's making what and we write pieces and put them online and have social media channels connecting with other people. And then also I was kind of interested in how documentary and interactive documentary was transitioning into this more immersive space. And then I got selected for a fellowship on the Southwest Creative Technology Network about a year ago now. and they put a call out for immersion fellows, anyone interested in looking at and examining what is immersion. And there were 27 of us who came together from a real range of backgrounds, so there were VR makers, there were sound artists, there was a writer, a dancer, a stonemason, other researchers as well, and we all came together for a series of workshops to just ask what on earth is immersion, what can we do with that, and we all had to come with a question. And my question was around how can we create shared immersive experiences because I was quite interested in moving away from this idea of a solitary VR headset and how can we use them to identify pathways towards a preferred future? And that grew out of my general interest in kind of social and environmental impact storytelling. And this concept that I'd seen a lot of VR pieces and immersive media pieces that were showing quite a dystopian future, I think. And I was more interested in, well, what about we look at where we would like to get to? And what about we think about what kind of a future we want to construct rather than avoid? And my kind of anecdotal theory was, if we can envision that, does that make it easier for people to see how they can get there?
[00:04:17.169] Kent Bye: Maybe we could take a step back and you can give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into immersive storytelling and immersive documentary.
[00:04:26.477] Julia Scott Stevenson: I had a really mixed bag background, I guess you could say, coming to this point. So I started doing human geography. So I guess I'm a geographer by background, which I guess comes through a little bit in my interest in place and connecting things back to place. I worked in international development for a little while, lived in Pacific Islands for a few years, worked for the UN, but was always interested in documentary storytelling. So I made a couple of short docs at the time. and then found my way into a PhD which was looking at interactive documentary through Australian Red Cross and the volunteers that they have and so I made an interactive documentary about Australian Red Cross volunteers. and was also researching how community organisations can use these new emerging forms of storytelling to get in touch with their audiences, to make change. And then from there, I kind of just had discovered this world of digital interactive media, which had been a little bit closed off to me while I was in the Pacific because connectivity wasn't great. Then social media was only just starting to come into existence. And so then I realised and sort of found this field that connected the social environmental impact stuff with the storytelling and then ended up in Bristol researching.
[00:05:35.327] Kent Bye: So getting your PhD, what was your undergraduate pathway to doing this PhD and this IDOCS program?
[00:05:42.473] Julia Scott Stevenson: I guess I'd always had an interest in documentary media, even when I was doing human geography as my undergrad. Because I then went into an honors year and did a thesis on representation of place in feature films. And so I looked at how Sydney was represented across 35 different feature films. So that was a great year of just watching a whole bunch of movies. And then I did a Master's in International Relations, actually, which was how I got into the kind of international development stage. But it was an advertised PhD that I saw while I was living in Samoa. And it seemed to me the thing that connected the two sides that I'd been trying to pull together for a while. I'd been making some short docs on the side while I was living in the Pacific, and I was getting a little bit frustrated with the international development world. And then I realised that this PhD would allow me to kind of connect the media world and the impact world together and try and craft something out of that. And it was a practice-based PhD, so I was expected to make a documentary during the PhD. And fairly early on, it became apparent that what Red Cross wanted was a traditional linear piece, and I realised that that wasn't going to work for this particular story. So that's what I started delving into the kind of interactive doc field and so made an iDoc during that time and that's what kind of gave me that shift in towards the interactive space.
[00:07:01.562] Kent Bye: So you're a part of this cohort of 27 people that got selected for this fellowship to do these workshops and explore what is the immersive element of documentary. And so is that out of those experiences and seeing all these pieces that you wrote this manifesto? And maybe you could just give a bit more context for how that came about.
[00:07:21.072] Julia Scott Stevenson: So the Immersion Fellowship gave us some funding that we could use in a number of ways and I primarily used it to attend a whole bunch of these immersive interactive festivals and just see the work that was on offer. And we also had a series of workshops together where we would just be like literally tossing around ideas on what is this for, what could we do with it, what technologies are we even talking about. And through those conversations and chatting with people at the various festivals I'd been to and seeing work, I started to extract a few themes that I was realising were common to the pieces that I thought were more effective. They didn't necessarily have to be explicitly social impact or environmental impact pieces, but just things that I thought were effective non-fiction storytelling for me. And as those themes started to emerge, that's when I sort of went, hang on a sec, I think I've got a set of principles here, what can I do with this? And then all of a sudden it just presented itself as a manifesto. And I thought, okay, this is something I can offer out of this piece of research, is here are these principles that I've pulled together. For someone else who wants to make or commission or produce work that might offer us this pathway forwards, but in fact work that's just good for any number of reasons, then I thought this might be useful.
[00:08:37.611] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just read through the manifesto right before we started to chat, and I was struck with how you were able to go to a lot of these different conferences and see these pieces, and a lot of pieces that were being shown in the United Kingdom as well. Because I have a chance to go to a lot of the major festivals, Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, Venice, and IFFA DocLab, and so I get to see quite a lot of stuff. And as well as I travel around, I try to see what's out there. So I feel like that there is this a relatively small group of folks that get to go to these places and see what's happening. And so I was struck with unpacking a lot of the different elements of those experiences. And some of them I'd seen, some of them I hadn't seen. But as I start to read through the manifesto, I'm just curious if you have it memorized, or if you could kind of step through what you remember of what those principles were of seeing those different types of experiences and what you were trying to extract out of those.
[00:09:31.519] Julia Scott Stevenson: Sure. So the first point in the manifesto is stage an encounter, by which I meant I was trying to get towards this idea of creating a shared experience, something where you encounter another person. And there are a couple of reasons behind that. One is I'd seen a lot of pieces that were attempting to generate empathy, which is this big kind of ongoing discussion in the immersive space about whether that's even possible, whether it's desirable. and I think a lot of people now agree it can be kind of problematic to pretend that you are walking in somebody else's shoes. So by staging an encounter I was thinking you get to go meet someone for a little while and maybe that's a different way or a way of kind of sidestepping this issue about pretending that you can be somebody else. And I came to that primarily by doing the Collider, a piece by Anna Graham, which I really loved. And I had this incredible connection with the other person that I did it with. And we got chatting afterwards and, you know, we had many things in common and we probably would have got on without having done the Collider first. But there was something about it that felt to me like it had kind of supercharged our connection. So we got to this point a lot quicker than we would have done otherwise if we hadn't undertaken these series of interactions in a very small space that the Collider enables. The second point of the manifesto is be wild, bewilderment is powerful. And I stumbled onto that thinking because I'd read this fantastic article by a guy called Kevin Berger, who was talking to a novelist called Richard Powers. And he was actually referencing this great piece by Lewis Thomas that was reminding us of our wild nature as animals, effectively, reminding us we're part of this natural system. And so I'm really interested in pieces that continue to remind us of that, that doesn't position nature as something that's out there and we're in here. So maybe VR or immersive pieces that give us some kind of awe or bewilderment or wonder at our position in this natural world. I really thought that was an affordance of this kind of media where you can create these magical engagement moments. Number three is about agency, move from being to doing. So basically in Interactive media there's a long history of getting your audience to actually to interact in some way to do something to take some control and I wondered if maybe there is something about having some control that makes you realize that that you can affect the story in front of you and whether that might lead to feeling like you can affect other things in the world outside. The fourth point is about embodiment and so just basically something that we're seeing a lot now I think is this move from what someone once said and I don't know who it was but it's a wonderful term is this idea of the conscious dot. that in VR headsets we often become this conscious dot and it's all about eyes and ears and we forget that we have this whole body attached. And there's some really wonderful things you can do by involving the whole body. I think we feel and we think and we act with our bodies so pieces that actually consider that and bring the body into play are really interesting to me. And then finally the last point of the manifesto is care. The participants matter. And I mean that in two ways. I mean care for the participants in the lead up to and during and after the experience. So preparing them for something that might be stressful, looking after them when they come out the other end, if they need some space to go and decompress after something that might be quite unsettling or distressing even. And then the other form of care I mean is care for their data and their personal privacy because particularly with the really diversifying forms of technology we're using to make these kinds of works, we are collecting a lot of information about our audience members potentially. there might be heart monitors, there might be breath trackers, you might be asking people to answer questions and give away a lot of their personal information and this is only increasing. I mean this year at IDFA we're seeing a lot of pieces that are AI based as well and so how that follows you and records you and I'm really concerned that people consider that as a really ethical imperative when they make work.
[00:13:21.671] Kent Bye: Yeah, one of the things that really captivates my interest in this topic of immersion is I think it's because we have this distribution platform for these immersive experiences, we're able to then interrogate and define what exactly is an experience. And I think we live in life and we have experiences all the time, but now that we have digitally mediated experiences, then what are the different component parts? And so from the VR academic perspective, they talk about presence and the qualities of presence. researching the different trade-offs and theories of presence and Mel Slater had told me that any good theory of presence is going to have equivalence classes and so there's going to be various different trade-offs. So I think in some ways what you've identified is the inherent equivalence classes between the different qualities of presence. And the way that I sort of talk about it is the mental and social presence, so the mental interactions of abstractions of language that would be sort of interacting with other people with the encounter. Active presence which is your expression of agency within an experience which it would be you know expression of agency having power and experience Embodied presence so your sense of your body of seeing how you actually have a physical embodiment in different levels in which how do you have an avatar of representation or invoking some level of the virtual body ownership illusion or expression of identity or also just thinking about your whole sensory experience and all the different ways that you can modulate your senses and And then the emotional presence, which is the modulation of building and releasing of tension to give you a story. And so I feel like each of those have their own center of gravity of the different media. So you have like video games for agency, you have for mental and social presence, you have books, you have internet, phones, communication devices. For the embodiment, you have theater, which is more spatial. You have aspects of meditative practices, embodied practices, ways of giving you sensory experiences. And then for the emotional presence, I feel like film is really centered on trying to really modulate your emotions by having music and story, and you're passively receiving it. The other aspects of bewilderment and the care, I feel like, start to get into a little bit of the experiential design of the onboarding-offboarding, but also the character of the experience, the different aspects of what kind of archetypal character are you trying to experience whether it's truth justice I feel like that's like the heart of a story is like what the character is and how the character changes over time which is sort of the story element but anyway that's sort of as I hear you go through your manifesto I sort of see how it kind of maps over to what I what I sort of consider is just experiential design.
[00:15:53.635] Julia Scott Stevenson: It's an interesting question that I think creators and producers need to wrestle with when they come to making an experience is which of all of those diversity of things is most important to them and what kind of experience are they trying to deliver. And I mean, sort of 10 years ago in the peak of the iDocs browser-based era when people were still making browser-based interactive documentary which was very kind of point and click and drag and move through a space that way and then very quickly people realised that if you just did a kind of content dump on the screen we've got 25 hours of video, we should make it all available to people, that people would kind of click around and play around for just a couple of minutes and then bail out. So creators went back to crafting more of a story and more of a narrative arc. And so it sort of became this spectrum emerge that at one end you've got effectively a database that people just play around with and at the other end you've got a fully authored start to finish story. it's maybe less innovative in form and so where on that spectrum do you want to sit in terms of how much you're allowing your audience to participate in? I think something I mentioned in the manifesto that I, the term I really like that Janet Murray talks about is having seen some immersive theatre works and she talks about the audience participating in the active creation of belief so she was kind of pushing back on this whole people need to suspend disbelief to go into a fictional story for instance and she's like no no they're not suspending disbelief they're actually, they're actively involved in creating this world. And I think maybe that's a useful insight for creators to decide where they sit in what kind of presence they're trying to develop and are they interested in the full embodiment approach or do they want a more of a sit back kind of experience. It's how much do you want them involved in that active creation of belief and how much do you need them to do that for the kind of story that you're developing.
[00:17:34.664] Kent Bye: And as I was reading through your manifesto, you were talking about encounters in Levinas and Levinas' perspective on encounters. Maybe you could expand on what the philosopher Levinas has to say about encounters.
[00:17:45.762] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, sure. Levinas is an interesting one. There are a couple of people that put me onto that. My boss, Professor Mandy Rose at IDOCS had been talking about Levinas a little bit and I actually was marking someone's PhD as well. A student from Australia, Freya Wright-Bruff, I think is her name. And she was also looking at digital storytelling and how Levinas had these ideas about infinity and totality and so he suggested that we can never fully represent another person. He was saying that people are infinite and by trying to represent them through media for instance we run the risk of totalizing them. instead of expressing their infinity. So an example of that might be people with disabilities is often when they're represented in media, they're shown as their disability being the only story about them. Whereas, of course, in fact, they have infinite stories, many of which have nothing to do with their disability, but we do tend to aim towards those kinds of stories. Similarly, with refugee narratives, we tend to see refugees as simply people fleeing something, and we totalise them as that. And so Levinas was kind of pushing back against media as being able to represent at all. He also talks about the encounter and encountering another's infinity and when you attempt to represent them sort of ethically and morally then you can encounter their infinity and understand that they are an infinite being rather than totalising them.
[00:19:01.082] Kent Bye: Yeah, it reminds me of when I went to the American Philosophical Association and talked to a philosopher, Lewis Gordon, who said the same thing around racism and other ways of making a judgment about people with very little information. He called it epistemic closure. So having all the information and knowledge you need about someone just from a very brief moment. So there's a bit of the whole model of knowledge, the epistemic knowledge of someone is closed. I like the idea of epistemic closure and trying to counter that and embrace that not knowing and it sounds like Levinas is also trying to encourage us to have that openness or not be so I guess be more inquisitive rather than critical and I guess there's a dialectic that happens between like critique and belief between seeing how you want to be skeptical but also be credulous. And you shouldn't be too extreme on either one, but trying to find the dialectic between those two and find out how you could be open-minded and questioning, but at the same time draw limits with critiquing or drawing boundaries in some way. So I feel like there's this natural dialectic between those that happens.
[00:20:07.731] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, I think that makes sense. It's often a case of finding that balance and as a documentary storyteller you get drawn to those interesting elements that are often the same reasons that other people get drawn to a story and you want to follow that along and follow it to what seems or what can seem as its conclusion but of course there never really is a conclusion to these kinds of stories. And so trying to stand back and connect it, I guess maybe it has some parallels in Janet Murray's active creation of belief, but instead of a fictional world, it's remembering to actively connect that back to a much broader story that exists.
[00:20:40.631] Kent Bye: Well, because you are getting your PhD in immersive documentary, and I'm curious, like, what types of theorists or insights that you're really drawing from? Because I see that VR is pulling together aspects of film and video games and literature and interactive media on the web, but also theater or embodied practices of dance, contemplative practices, more embodied practices. But for you, what kind of theorists from what domains are you pulling from to make sense of it all?
[00:21:11.319] Julia Scott Stevenson: So when I did my PhD it was really difficult because I was coming from a more traditional documentary background. So I was looking at documentary theorists like Bill Nichols and Michael Renov and understanding the documentary project first and foremost and then taking that forward into a space that was trying to unpick it a little bit and then understand what the digital world was doing to that. And so then that meant also moving into a little bit of theory around what even is interactivity and interaction, some things about remediation as well. and then also a little bit of more specific things around activist documentary and social documentary and what are all of those things and so that was also moving into fields like digital ethnography and Sarah Pink's work, visual sociology, so bringing in some of the social sciences and how they use different practices like traditional photography to tell documentary stories and then bringing all of those into this kind of online space. And then now, it's been after my PhD that the VR and immersive world has really taken off. And when we all came together for the Immersion Fellowship, the 27 of us, that was this really fantastic moment to just understand the breadth of what other research was out there. My colleague, Sharon Clark, who runs Raucous Theatre in Bristol, she was one of the fellows and she was coming from an immersive theatre background and so she was kind of referencing writers from theatre and then there were sound artists referencing material from there. So, it's a difficult thing because you could spend your entire time delving into 10 different disciplines to try and find threads that exist across all of them. And that was something I learnt to do in my PhD, was to sort of recognise something and say, it's there, I know it's there. but right now I'm going to call it outside my scope. But I think we're starting to see a little bit of maturity in this space that has managed to start to draw on a few of those areas. I feel like the video game field has started to open up in its connections with the film and the TV world and the theatre world and we're seeing creators that have some maturity in having drawn from all of those different disciplines perhaps. And then of course there's the area of VR practice and lab-based theory that's coming out of the Stanford Interaction Lab and Mel Slater's work in Barcelona and so on. So there's a lot of that more mechanistic approach that's also of interest.
[00:23:28.448] Kent Bye: And I know there's a lot of new programs that have been coming up online just focusing on specifically immersive storytelling at different places at UNC. Well, I won't try to name them all because I'll forget the specifics, but I know there's a lot of different programs that are coming up as well. But for me, as a podcaster, I'm able to have brief conversations. And so I try to do an inch deep and a mile wide, but maybe two inches deep. I try to go a little, a little deeper, but you know, as I'm having these different conversations, trying to see how it all fits together. Cause that's what really interests me and trying to figure out a meta framework to be able to reference these existing frameworks. But I've been referring to it as this process of experiential design. And I think the heart of it is these trade-offs that don't have perfect combinations, but they're kind of like these ingredients that as you cook, you have. ability to put something in but when you put something in it may be taking something away. So noticing how all of life is like these combinations of our experience and my deeper theory for what's happening is that as we go into these mediated experiences we're able to cultivate our own archetypal palette of our phenomenological experience. So with the Collider, for example, I had a chance to do it at IFFA DocLab last year and then do it at Tribeca the other side. It really gave me, personally, a lot of insight from my own personal relationship to power and boundaries, which was being explored quite a bit and being on the receiving end and then on the giving end. of that experience and then seeing how there's a lot of things about that experience that is a bit of a microcosm of deeper patterns in my life, which was very insightful to see how just of my behavior within a small context could actually give me deeper insight into a larger part of my character. which I thought was very interesting, thinking about what it is, why we're doing all this, is that we kind of have these constrained experiences to allow us to enter in this magic circle and to play, but yet in this aspect of playing with these rules, maybe there's aspects of our behavior that are fundamental parts of us that we wouldn't have access to. or they're context-dependent where we're able to flip into this magic circle and do something we would never do otherwise. And what's that feel like? And so I feel like there's this calibration process of testing our boundaries and discovering aspects of ourselves, but also to be able to come up with the language to be able to even talk about our own experiences. Because as we go into these immersive experiences, then we're able to talk about the nuances of our direct experiences in the real world. So that's sort of my thesis of what's going on.
[00:25:57.597] Julia Scott Stevenson: That's really interesting, this approach to kind of how we know ourselves and what we learn about ourselves when we're doing these works. And on the one hand, are we discovering things that suddenly seem so a part of us? Or can we ever fully step outside and actually see what we're like from an external perspective? And that's something I'm interested in every time I do a piece. To be quite specific about it, I'm really interested in how a lot of works have been using voice over the last year or so, and how that elicits really different behaviour from people. and the conversations I've had with people after they've done those kinds of works, and how they feel about using their voice in a space like that, and whether they then reflect on how they feel about that, and whether there are gender differences, for instance, in how people can express themselves. When I was doing May Abdallah's piece, Make Noise, last year, where it's a piece about the suffrage movement, and you have to shout and sing to break down barriers to women. And I really enjoyed it. And I thought it was quite canny in how it gave you direction on what to say. So it wasn't one of those moments where you're standing there going, oh, am I doing the right thing? This is really awkward. It gave you suggestions. But there was a man next to me who lasted for about a minute and then took the headset off and said, this is not for me. I am not. I'm not going to use my voice here. I feel much too vulnerable or exposed or, you know, I don't feel comfortable doing that here. And then again here, yesterday I was doing the Symphony of Noise piece, but there was so much background hubbub that I kind of felt okay singing into the microphone. But maybe that's a representation of the fact that I've done a few of these things now and so it starts to feel more normal. But maybe it's actually something else about me entirely that I'm not quite understanding.
[00:27:39.873] Kent Bye: Well, last year when I came to IDVA DocLab, I had this idea of what a documentary was. Going to film festivals, they're separated between the narrative pieces and the documentary pieces. And it seems to be a difference in the production. For documentaries, you're recording footage and then emergently creating the story. And then there's much more authorship. As we talked about the spectrum between authorship versus generative, different types of narratives. On the other extreme, the documentary is that you're gathering stuff that's emerging environment versus the authorship of having a very clear construction of the narrative. And so when I came to the doc lab last year, I was surprised to see something like The Collider. Because I was like, I had been seeing these types of experiences and other film festival circuits like at Sundance and Tribeca, South by Southwest. And so it was like, oh, well, this is a documentary. And then when talking to Casper, he was like, yeah, this is like a reflection of reality. And so you mentioned a couple of theorists. And I'm just wondering, like, how you define documentary, how the theorists are defining documentary, and, you know, if there's kind of an expansion of what that definition is.
[00:28:48.218] Julia Scott Stevenson: We could have a conversation about the definition of documentary for a long time but it is a really interesting one and it's something that I think exists in shifting boundary zones all the time. There's a few interesting and useful definitions. The original and primary one that documentarists tend to go back to is John Grierson. So he was an early 20th century British documentarian and he called documentary the creative treatment of actuality. And that is one I come back to a lot because, I mean, you know, you can always find pieces that sit either side of that that you might disagree whether they fit within that definition or not, but it is quite useful because we are still talking about actuality to some extent, but there's a creative treatment on it. I mentioned Bill Nichols before. He calls documentaries discourses of sobriety. And I actually wonder about that one now. I'm not sure if that's as useful as it used to be. That might have emerged a bit more out of the world of kind of expositional documentaries, Voice of God narration, that sort of thing, but one that I drew on for my PhD, which I love and I come back to a lot, it's lesser definition, but it's said by a guy called Dirk Eitzen, and he said a documentary is something that you can ask the question of, might it be lying? So, for instance, back in the era of a few mockumentaries like Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop, there was a lot of, is this a documentary? And the very fact that we have that conversation about the film, to me, means that it's a documentary. If it was totally a fiction piece, we wouldn't be asking whether it's lying.
[00:30:16.052] Kent Bye: Well, that gives quite a broad latitude. So when you see pieces here at the Doc Lab, do you see that most of them are documentary? Or do you see more narrative elements? I'm just curious how, when you see experiences, if you try to make a distinction in your mind, or if you just see it as an experience and don't try to put too much more of a label on it?
[00:30:38.077] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, that's a really good question, actually. I guess I'm not consciously trying to determine each time whether I think something is a documentary, but there are definitely pieces that I see at IDFA and at Sheffield DocFest that if I stood back and thought about it a minute, I might be like, actually, this probably doesn't fit my definition of a documentary. And at iDocs, we're often having this kind of conversation. What is something that we would be comfortable showing that we think fits with documentary? And so there's the broad definition of documentary, and then there's our definition of what connects with what we're trying to examine about how you can take forward this nonfiction project effectively. So sure there are pieces here that sometimes I kind of think I can see there are elements of actuality involved in this but it doesn't to me sit within a documentary tradition or it doesn't come out of a documentary tradition or maybe for me a lot of it's about intent and author intent and maybe I think that the director or creator is perhaps not intending it to be reality in the same way that I'm expecting to see.
[00:31:40.297] Kent Bye: What comes to mind is the two more audio walk tours where Only Expanse where you're walking around and you have like an augmentation of the audio that's coming in and there's a narrative component that's drawing you through but it's also trying to pull out very real aspects of actuality of climate change and the climate crisis. And then there is the look inside where you actually go into somebody's home, you're just walking around somebody's home, but there's an audio augmentation layer that's giving you kind of like a tour and inviting you to test your boundaries in different ways. And so it's like, is that a documentary? You know, I would think of it as like an experience But, you know, it's sort of the creative treatment of actuality is a definition that's so open that walking around somebody's house guided through an audio augmentation of an audio tour that starts to be like, okay, what are, what do we call what this is?
[00:32:34.574] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, I guess with only expansion. So Duncan Speakman was also one of the fellows on the Southwest Creative Technology Network Immersion Fellowship. So I guess I know a little bit about his process and what he's trying to achieve. And for me, it is quite rooted in actuality and reality and live issues around climate change and the Anthropocene that he's dealing with. So I guess it does make sense to me that that comes from a sort of a nonfiction imperative. But also having said that, as we get more into this performative theatre space, I do think we move further away from something that could be necessarily titled documentary. I haven't done the look inside piece, but yeah, I see your point that maybe it's not something that exists within that. But then also, perhaps to me that's a slightly less interesting question as to whether it is or is not a documentary and maybe it's just more interesting to unpack what the creator was trying to achieve and what conversations she wants the audience to be having afterwards.
[00:33:33.124] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess that's a big reason why I focus so much on the phenomenological experience and what my personal experience is from those perspectives of the degree of active presence, embodied presence, and mental and social presence, and emotional presence, but also the context. So I'm going into somebody's home. I'm a stranger. that's very intimate. And so there's lots of boundaries. And so the character of the experience for me was testing the limits of my boundary, but also expanding and being invited to be transgressive of boundaries that I wouldn't normally cross. But I'm invited to do it. So then do I do it or not do it? And so it felt like a real exploration of my own boundaries. So that was the underlying character. And then to see how it evolves or changes over time, I'm there. And from the beginning and end, do I change my perspective on my insights on Amsterdam, on this person, on would I allow someone to do this at my home. And so I feel like it's not necessarily a narrative experience, but it's definitely an experience. But as I go through it, I tend to look at it through those as a lens more than the label to have other people understand it.
[00:34:37.840] Julia Scott Stevenson: So I think maybe that speaks to the kind of background that everybody's coming from when they come to a piece like that. So when I think about a project like that and I'm connecting it to my documentary history is coming from very much a flat screen feature and TV documentary kind of approach. And so those responses that you had to me, I'm like, oh yeah, that sounds like you were being made to think in a way that I think documentary makes people think. But then perhaps someone who's coming from a much more theatre background might say, well, yeah, theatre makes people think like that all the time. It doesn't have to be documentary. So perhaps I'm showing my documentary screen media colours when I think, yeah, the questions that you've got there, that sounds to me part of the documentary project.
[00:35:18.992] Kent Bye: Well, what Ken Wilber talks about this process of transcendent include, I think what's happening as we start to fuse together all these mediums is what is transcendent of all these mediums and what do we keep from them and the language and the frameworks and what is kind of left behind. So I feel like by looking at film and documentary relative to the sort of immersive turn, then you have this process of transcending and including and this fusion, but also being able to take insights from documentary, but also recognize the limitations, especially when you're inviting agency or inviting other aspects of embodiment or things that weren't necessarily of concern of the original frameworks of something like documentary. So that's at least how I start to think about what we're doing here in this conversation and why I think it's interesting or important to explore.
[00:36:05.984] Julia Scott Stevenson: Oh yeah, absolutely. I do think one of the key things is identifying what those elements are that make sense to take forwards. And I do hear frustration from some people who are like, oh, I wish people would stop saying VR is a film because it's not a film. But I kind of think that's a little unfair sometimes. I think there's some really wonderful elements of filmmaking in the film. worlds that do transcend and still exist and are relevant in this space and we're getting better at figuring out what those are and recognizing that they connect with these other transcendent elements from other media types like games and so on. So yeah, I think effectively that is what we're trying to do is find those connecting points and the things that come through.
[00:36:42.361] Kent Bye: Well for you now that you said that you're finished with your PhD, what are you doing now?
[00:36:47.308] Julia Scott Stevenson: Alright, so I finished my PhD a few years ago and then moved into academia, but the academic role at the moment is this interesting crossover between academia and industry in that we get to do this fellowship type work and come to the festivals and understand what's being made. hopefully do some more practice so like I'd like to get back into making things if I can. I'm interested in expanding some of the points in the manifesto that I made so I want to look a little more into embodiment and understand how that's evolving in immersive media. I want to look a little bit more into environmental narratives and understand how people connect with the concept of nature through immersive storytelling. And I'm also really interested in data storytelling. So I want to do a little bit more research around that and around how people's data is used and collected and perhaps adapted and even used through machine learning approaches. So I guess more research, potentially some making if I can manage to. I was part of a prototyping team that came out of the Immersion Fellowship process. with a woman called Coral Manton who's a creative coder in Bath Spa and she has an app that's around augmented, well it's an augmented reality piece that's on phones at the moment and it's around demonstrating complexity in heritage objects. So we're trying to demonstrate that you can tell different kinds of stories about heritage objects rather than the classic white card that's on the wall in the museum that tells you one story only. So that's something that we're working on a little bit at the moment. So trying to develop a few things in that area. And then our next iDocs is in March. So I'm a conference producer for the next few months as well. So trying to string all of those threads back together and continue the research.
[00:38:20.573] Kent Bye: Yeah. And for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions you're trying to answer or open problems you're trying to solve with the work that you're doing?
[00:38:30.084] Julia Scott Stevenson: Well, I think the biggest challenge that we're all trying to answer at the moment is climate change. So I'm thinking about how, what immersive media has to do with that, whether we're just kind of making fun toys that are irrelevant or whether we can actually really use these media forms to create some real change. So that's one thing that I'm interested in in particular. And then also, I guess the shared experience thing is still an interest of mine. How do we get away a little bit from hiding people behind headsets that are not necessarily being taken up in homes and so on? And how do we improve the exclusivity of these kinds of media forms? How do we open them up a little bit more and really make them accessible? And the privacy and security and surveillance issue is the other really big thing. How do we continue doing this in a kind of ethical way that does keep an eye on our audiences?
[00:39:23.618] Kent Bye: You had mentioned data storytelling. And I've seen an app called Flow Immersive that is based in WebXR. And having WebXR launch here within, actually, the next couple of weeks on Chrome, I think is going to have a huge explosion of people starting to explore data visualization, information visualization. We haven't seen a lot of that within Unity or Unreal Engine projects or even other engines that are out there. Because I think there's not a lot of frameworks that are that make data information visualization easy But I feel like with the web it's one of the inherent uses of the web but also a lot of just really great open source software libraries that are out there that allow people to Bring in lots of content and start to do data visualizations and data storytelling in a way especially when you start to overlay that on top of the earth and be able to add information there as well and and There hasn't been a lot of API ability for something like Google Earth to be able to do a lot of that stuff. But I'm hoping that there's another project that I saw that was kind of a reflection of your life, where you could upload all of your social media and all your data, and it would sort of geotag it and map it out spatially so that you could look at your life over time. So that was a way to kind of look at your own data footprint and fingerprints and start to find your own patterns. But those types of ways of being able to connect yourself to the place, which is something you've obviously looked at a lot, but I feel like both augmented reality moving forward, but also the WebXR, WebVR, WebAR ways of taking information and putting it into space, I'm really excited to see what you can start to do with that.
[00:41:01.935] Julia Scott Stevenson: There was a really great seminal piece a few years ago by Mozilla and Brett Gaylor called Do Not Track, which was a series of eight webisodes all about tracking effectively online and it kind of had this meta approach of taking your data and then showing it back to you as to how visible you are online. And so I thought that did a really great job of kind of positioning you as an individual in that world of online and seeing how your life does map out and how it is tracked and visible. And yeah, I'm also really interested to see, though, the really, as a social researcher by background, this kind of fascinating content of data that exists out there and being able to map that onto places. I do think connecting things to place, and here I am being a geographer again, is kind of the key thing that makes a story in a world really tangible and have some texture to it. So that will be really interesting. And in actual fact, I'm really excited about AR in a way that I was probably never as excited about VR. I'm really fascinated to see what kind of possibilities emerge when we get 10 years further down the track in the kind of the technology around that. I really think there'll be some fascinating ways of connecting people to their environments in a different way than we do now, you know, adding these elements of awe, bewilderment for instance. while they can still interact with the people around them and the space they're in. So in a way similar to some of the things Duncan Speakman was talking about in his talk yesterday about immersion being something we already are doing and are in and then just having a different vantage point perhaps on what's happening.
[00:42:36.206] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just got back from a family vacation where we traveled from Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans and did over a dozen guided tours from different people. And so what I was really struck with is how the story of a place gets told and how do you best consume a story of a place? Or how do you even take the complexity of a place and tell its story? So how do you tell the story of a place?
[00:43:01.753] Julia Scott Stevenson: Oh gosh yeah, that's one of the questions that we've been trying to answer actually with this augmented reality app that we've been working on as a prototype out of the Creative Technology Network. So one of the reasons that Coral Manton decided she wanted to create this project was because there are so many different stories about a single object or place and so one of the prototype angles that we took was there's a bridge in Bristol in the UK called Pero's Bridge. and Pero was a slave who was brought by a family from the Caribbean to the UK. So you can tell a number of different stories about that bridge. You can talk about its construction and what it now enables in Bristol for people to pass across it, or you can tell the story of Pero and what happened to him, and then you can tell the story of why the bridge came to be named after him. And so with the app we're trying to make it possible so it's location-based, geotagged, you go to different spots around the bridge and you start to uncover the different angles on that particular story. And the other element that we wanted to demonstrate with it was kind of the opposite of a Netflix-style recommendation algorithm. So instead of feeding you more of what it thinks you want, once you hear one story, it then offers you a completely alternative view. So something kind of surprising and unexpected, giving you a completely different perspective on something that you thought you'd had the full story for.
[00:44:18.860] Kent Bye: Yeah, there was one moment when we were on a guided tour in New Orleans, we're going on a boat from New Orleans to like the site of this 1815 battle that happened in New Orleans, and we heard the story like four times back to back. We had the person on the ship tell it, and then there was the ranger. who told the story, there was placards and signage to tell the story, you go inside, you watch a video with a map that is animated, you see the story, then you walk in and you see all the other objects and you see the story, and you get back and the guy told us the story again, so it was like... like six different ways of telling the same story over and over. But for me, I was very interested in seeing, okay, what is the essence of the story? What's the best way for me to consume what this story is? And being on the field where it happened, being in where there's like a overhead map to show it, watching a video with a reenactment, seeing all the artifacts from that story, or to hear the ranger tell the story from the ranger's perspective, or to hear the other storyteller's perspective who's trying to really condense down the elements of it. Yeah, it just it left me like thinking about like what is the differences between these different stories? What is the best and the different ways of spatially telling it? And yeah, it just made me think about signage and museums and how that's gonna be changing with augmented reality and having many different ways of telling the same story.
[00:45:37.652] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, because of course all of those ways are the best way to tell the story. I mean all of them together, you know, ideally If we could have all of those perspectives on everything then that would be fantastic. But of course there is no perfect knowledge and there is always mediated knowledge. We're always mediating a point of view or a perspective on something. And so it's a case of making a decision as a creator or a producer and deciding what that perspective that you want to take is. And one of the wonderful things about these media formats is that you can take more than one. There are ways to incorporate a number. but just being clear perhaps with yourself and your audience on it being a perspective is I think one of the key things to how you make those choices.
[00:46:19.441] Kent Bye: Yeah, it was told from one perspective in the sense that it was the victor that was telling the story. So, you know, looking at something like situated knowledges where you'd have many different perspectives based upon where you're at in space and time, but also power and privilege. So, you know, having the multitude of the opposite perspective of sort of the, what was the dialectic or what was the conflict that was there that I think that of all the things I didn't get a good sense of what the opposite, the loser's perspective of what they were. And they actually said, okay, If you're from Britain, you're gonna be the villain. You're gonna be cast as the villain in this story. Which made me immediately be like, I wonder how Britain tells this story.
[00:46:54.727] Julia Scott Stevenson: Yeah, that's very interesting. And that's potentially a risk, I think, is that you can feel like you're presenting a rich, full story by doing different versions of it, like you experienced on that boat, but still all effectively turning out to be from one perspective. So, I mean, I guess a lot of that's just about having mixed teams, bringing people together, doing user testing, really basic stuff like that, doing your research well to kind of get a full understanding of, hang on, what is it that we're actually demonstrating here?
[00:47:25.854] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of immersive technologies and immersive storytelling might be and what it might be able to enable?
[00:47:36.897] Julia Scott Stevenson: Oh gosh, that's a biggie. I guess ultimate potential for some of these things, I guess I have to bring it back to my own background in documentary and international development and social impact and environmental impact stories. So those for me are actually what I think some of the interesting and most important elements will be, is how we can actually get people to make change through these kinds of, through these experiences. And I don't necessarily mean classic activist issue-based works. I think there are different ways to address those kinds of stories and I think we're starting to see that in a really interesting way. I know for some of my colleagues who are still in kind of traditional screen documentary who get a little bit frustrated about sometimes a focus on issue docs being the only way to get things funded. And I think maybe with this kind of more immersive space we have some possibilities to make More diverse stories that don't kind of hit you over the head with an issue but still do think about interesting ways to get people to make change.
[00:48:43.917] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?
[00:48:49.012] Julia Scott Stevenson: I guess I think my final point would probably be for creators and producers to just keep thinking about their audiences and figuring out how they're going to get to their audiences. This is something that we constantly have to consider in what can be quite exclusive spaces. Thinking about, you know, maybe your work isn't for a mass broad public audience and that's totally fine, but then thinking that through from the beginning and trying to identify who it is for and how you want to reach them is being a really interesting first question, I think.
[00:49:17.385] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to sit down and join me today on the podcast. So thank you.
[00:49:23.580] Julia Scott Stevenson: Thank you, Ken. It's been really great.
[00:49:25.724] Kent Bye: So that was Julia Scott-Stevenson. She's a fellow of Interactive Factual Media at the Digital Cultures Research Center at the Uni of West of England in Bristol. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well, I just really appreciate going to the IDFA doc lab and being able to run into different academics who have been doing these deep dives into immersive media and documentary, just because it's fascinating to talk to them, to see all the different stuff that they're pulling in. all the different theoretical frameworks and the way that they're making sense of things. So just talking to Julia, because she got her PhD and doing all this research, she was able to kind of tip me off to a lot of very interesting different topics. Some of the stuff she was talking about was like digital ethnography and the work of Sarah Pink. So anthropologists who are trying to find ways of seeing how people are using technology and a whole method of trying to see our relationship to technology and ways to research that from an anthropological lens. So that's something that was an influence on the work that she was doing when she was doing her PhD, which she said that when she did her PhD after she did her PhD is when like the immersive and VR stuff really exploded in this whole realm of iDocs and immersive and interactive documentaries. but also this field of visual sociology. So looking to see how documentary filmmakers or photographers were being able to document people's lives and what is it going to mean for virtual and immersive reality, 360 videos, 180 videos to be able to do this level of visual sociology. And people in the future may be looking at the 360 videos that have been recorded from this visual sociological lens. And what kind of information can you glean about our society? If you think about like of all of the moments in history, like there has been way more 360 degree immersive video that has been captured in this renaissance of virtual reality technologies and a lot of GoPro cameras, you know, starting around like 2012 and onward when you started to see a lot of the early GoPro rigs, but the content that was being generated, you know, there's people in the future that are going to be able to time travel back to this era and be able to look at all sorts of different aspects about our culture, just from people being able to capture these immersive media. And so. In the future, there's going to be so many of the digital ethnographers that are going to be looking at stuff like visual sociology and look at this 360 video. So all the stuff that is on YouTube, it may not be that interesting right now, but in 5 to 10 or 20 years from now, it's going to be super interesting, or maybe even 100 years from now, just from that sort of historical and visual anthropological level. So that was interesting to hear about that. Also, there's a lot of different ways of looking at documentary. She gave like at least three different definitions of documentary. The big one that I think that Casper Sonnen gave to me last year was the one that a lot of people cite from John Greeson, which is like, documentary is the creative treatment of actuality, which is a pretty broad definition. And I think If you start to think about some of the immersive theater works or the works that you have at the DocLab, then that's a pretty broad definition. And I think it's interesting to me to see the people that are coming from that documentary tradition to be able to start to get into more of a theatrical scope or get into these immersive technologies and start to explore a creative treatment of actuality in different ways. She also mentioned Bill Nichols. His definition of the documentary is discourses of sobriety. And the one that she was really drawn to was Dirk Eidsen's, a documentary is any motion picture that is susceptible to the question of might it be lying, which again opens up the door for what could be considered a documentary. So. What else? So the actual manifesto that she wrote up, so the five main points that she had, the first one was stage an encounter. The second one, be wild, build what is powerful. The third one, move from being to doing. The fourth one, embody the future. And then finally, the care that participants matter. So for me, when I look at this, there were three of them that were really talking about different qualities of presence. And so there's the social and mental presence. So staging an encounter with another individual, finding different aspects of social interactions. Moving from being to doing the being is, you know being grounded into your body Which I think is still a part of that embodied presence and that's all well and good but there's also the doing which is actually being engaged within the experience and being able to express your agency through that sense of active presence and Being able to embody the future So, you know having different levels of your body putting put it into the experience and then the the beat wild bewilderment is powerful There's these different aspects of awe and wonder all in wonder I think is some ways connected to the mental representations that you have in the world and all is sort of a transcending whatever those mental models and representations may be and so there's a certain mental map that you have and being able to transcend that as ways to invoke the all but all is enjoy and these different aspects are also this aspect of the fundamental character of an experience as well I assign that more as to like the different feelings of all and wonder maybe that's an emotional feeling as well and So trying to define exactly where that fits in, it can be a little tricky. And, you know, I don't want to get too bogged down, but this is just at least how I start to make sense of it. And the care and being able to onboard and off board, I think is part of this contextual dimension of you're entering into a new context. And so how do you transition from the existing outside context into this magic circle that is allowing to people to be primed before you go into experience? And then after you come out, then how do you start to offboard and take care for people to make sure that they're able to transition back into reality through, you know, if it's a very intense experience, you want to have some level of decompression. So you either do that through different installations or being able to have different practices to make sure that there's an onboarding and offboarding process for your immersive experience. but also different issues around ethics and privacy and disclosure around that. And she, in her manifesto essay, talks about an experience where people have to basically forego all their rights to data. And as you do this experience, then what kind of level of intimacy and data are you giving up in order to participate into it? I was also really interested into hearing her participation in this whole Southwest Creative Technology Network, 27 different technology fellows. There's actually a video that summarizes some of the prototypes that were being created and actually really quite interesting to see the range of different experiments and prototypes are being built, you get a bunch of creative technologists together and they're going to start pushing the edges of what's possible. And so just to see, you know, in terms of accessibility or doing different things with sound and being able to prototype experiences within an immersive environments or the augmented reality app, which Julie Scott Stevenson was working on with Coral Manton and to be able to have the multitude of many different perspectives. And so, you know, when you go to a museum and you see that one little piece of text, that's like the authoritative story about that. And so trying to blow up that as a unified grand central narrative and to break it up and see if there's any debates around that if there's alternative perspectives and how to incorporate more perspectives and to use the spatial affordances to be able to establish different contexts and different characters, different points of view, different perspectives, and to be able to look at these different architectural objects in the world, or these artifacts and be able to add a multitude of many different perspectives onto one object and not just to be able to focus on one perspective. So the final thing is just iDocs and the whole symposium that they have coming up here in March. It sounds like they're going to be gathering lots of different academics and practitioners. The symposium happens every two years or so, so it's a gathering of all these different people to kind of reflect on the research that's happening in the realm of immersive and interactive documentary. The last note, I guess I'd just say, is in Julie Scott Stevenson's manifesto, she actually links off to a manifesto that Janet Murray wrote, who's famous for writing Hamlet on the holodeck. And she's continuing to look at a lot of this media theory of interactive games. And there's iKids, which is the Interactive Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, which is a whole storytelling conference that I've heard a lot about. I haven't had a chance to make it out to it yet. that sounds like the premier conference for bringing together a lot of the researchers and practitioners that are specifically focusing more on the interactive forms of narrative and interactive storytelling. And so rather than from the documentary perspective, which I think is what IDOC's and a lot of the communities there at Bristol, and what Julia Scott-Stevenson's working on, from the other side of the more narrative-focused interactive and video game world, to see what kind of innovations are happening from how to make sense of interactive narrative from that perspective. And so just found myself going through Janet Murray's website and reading some of her latest keynotes stuff that she's been doing a great history and Haman on the holodeck is a landmark piece of interactive literature came out I think around like 1997 but this concept that Julie Scott Stevenson mentioned both in her manifesto as well as in this talk was this act of construction of belief that it's not a suspension of disbelief that you're actively co-creating the belief and so you're actually inviting people to Come into this magic circle and to use their imagination and to suspend different aspects of their normal life So maybe that's the level of that suspension of disbelief but to actively co-create stepping in and embodying these different characters and to see how that active co-creation of belief can be a little bit of a context switch and a new framing to be able to think about what we're doing when it comes to interactive and immersive storytelling so that's all that i have for today and i just wanted to thank you for listening to the voices of vr podcast and if you enjoy the podcast then please do tell your friends spread the word and consider becoming a member of the patreon i am an independent scholar going around and doing all these things. I don't have any grant money, no other support other than the support from my listeners on my podcast. And so, if you enjoy this type of independent scholarship and real-time oral history, I'm doing my own level of anthropological documentation of the evolution of the spatial storytelling and virtual reality medium over the last five and a half years where at this point I've recorded well over 1,400 or 1,500 interviews and published over 800 of them. At this point I'm doing these different series and if you enjoy this and want to see more then please do become a member of the Patreon. Five to ten dollars a month is a great amount to give and just allows me to continue to do this type of independent scholarship and independent journalism and real-time oral history. So, you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.