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Immersive Ethnography: Authorship, Agency and Collaboration in VR and 360 video 
Rossella Schillaci (UT Austin Colab - Nova University of Lisbon, University of Texas at Austin)
Mark Westmoreland (Leiden University)
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Panel Discussion
Start time:
26 March, 2021 at
Time zone: Europe/London
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

How emerging technologies could expand methodological approaches for visual anthropological research? Session 1: Experimental Techniques

Long Abstract:

Interactive documentaries have become established as a new field of practice within non-fiction storytelling (Aston, Gaudenzi, Rose, 2017). Documentary filmmakers have begun experimenting with virtual reality (VR) as a new experiential dimension that moves towards immersive forms of viewing (Rose 2018; Westmoreland 2020). These new immersive worlds substantially change the role of the audience. Viewers transform themselves into active participants or ‘users’ (Rose 2018), by wearing headsets that isolate them from the immediate world and immerse them into a 360° filmic experience, fully surrounded by image and sounds.

Furthermore, as claimed by general interactive documentary studies (Aston, Gaudenzi, Rose 2017), the team which produces a VR documentary is usually a multidisciplinary team, which link together filmmakers, digital technical professionals, community and subjects filmed. As such, the big promise with new media production of immersive and interactive docs is the potential to reconfigure the relationship between filmmakers, designers, subjects and viewers (Gaudenzi, 2017). The new relationship between the designer of user experience and viewers reconfigure the techniques that enables the viewer to be virtually immersed inside an unusual environment and thus approximate new forms of intimacy with the subjects (Stefanoff 2019).

Accordingly, this panel seeks contributors working with 360° video and computer-generated VR environments to investigate the affordances but also the constrains of immersive storytelling and thereby address possibilities to rethink the process of creation, especially with regard to the concepts of authorship, participation and agency for both the research subject and the viewer.

Accepted papers:

Session 1