Thesis Info

Thesis Title
The Final Image: An Artwork and Techniques in Immersion
Martin Jarmick
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of Washington, Seattle
Thesis Supervisor
Richard Karpen
Supervisor e-mail
karpen AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Phillip Thurtle
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media (DXARTS)
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
immersive media, immersion, virtual reality, experimental cinema, art game
Abstract: 200-500 words
The virtual reality (VR) platform presents artistic problems in agency, interaction, and narrative, and this research addresses them with two primary components: 1) the production of an experimental cinematic VR artwork, and 2) a written discussion focused on the subjective-spatial dimension of immersion. The project, entitled The Final Image, integrates stereoscopic-3D panoramas, interactive spaces, voice-overs, and soundscape to form a navigable visual-sonic experience about fragmented recollections of home, and an inner journey towards clarity. The written framework supporting the project defines immersion as a fusion of agency and environment and problematizes the embodied nature of VR display as a phenomenological sight characterized by a plurality of senses, consciousness, and mobility. Works of cinema, literature, visual art, and electronic games illustrate classic and contemporary media theories and inspire the content and systems of the production. Parallels exist between the continuous and navigable nature of VR and the extended shot durations and deep depth of fields in cinema, where each enable viewer presence and choice. Cinematic cues in light, sound and movement become the primary means of direction in the absence of montage and pictorial borders, and in this project, illumination of the environment, and legibility of narrative steer the experience and correlate to audience feedback. Phenomenologists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s discussion on ‘the striated and the smooth’ becomes useful in designing interactions that balance authorship and audience choice. Analysis of narrative systems in open-world electronic games reveals structures that oscillate between the fluid and rigid, and likewise, The Final Image project proposes an architecture that maintains compositional integrity yet allows for exploration and interpretation. The Rückenfigur, or ‘figure from behind’, is a foreground character often employed in Romantic painting and proves to be a useful approach to perspective in VR since the audience is essentially an embodied vantage-point. The Rückenfigur evokes a point-of-view for the audience to inhabit, pushing the rendered environment beyond an observed object and into a perceived and emotive space linked to consciousness. In addition, a discussion of perspective in modern literature provides useful models for a problem central to VR narrative: with whose eyes does the viewer see the world and how can their point-of-view be personified and expressed?