The freezing cement stings my heels while, in total solitude, I find myself looking at a pair of sneakers, abandoned beneath a shiny metal bench. The bench sits against the wall of a tight and low space, almost like a container, which is illuminated by a cold, hissing neon light. They are a child’s shoes, thrown in a messy heap of other old shoes, covered with dust and abandoned in this space of suspension and waiting, the first direct reference to the hopeful yet desperate journey undertaken by many migrants across the border between Mexico and the United States, which I too, in a way, am experiencing. I too wait barefoot, in the reconstruction of a hielera in which the police have kept the migrants cramped up for days, for a red light and a siren that will tell me to go through a door. Once I pass the threshold, I am swallowed up by the blackness of a large dark space, cut in two by a horizontal band of dim red light. I take a few steps towards two shadows that ask me to move closer. Now there is an expanse of fine, cold sand beneath my feet, like at the seaside on a summer night, but mixed with sharp, cutting gravel. With tentative steps, almost limping, I reach the shadows: I make out two female faces, which speak to me and ask me for the sake of safety not to run or throw myself on the floor during “the experience” (as they call it). They place a backpack on my shoulders, a VR headset on my head, and earphones over my ears. For a moment, everything goes dark.

Thus begins the experience of Carne y Arena by the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, an installation that allows the visitor, through virtual reality (VR), to take part in the dramatic adventure of a group of migrants intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol while trying to cross the border at night. I will describe the installation further in what follows, analyzing in detail and discussing the aspects of it that relate to the embodied nature of this experience (although it is not, as we will see, without disembodied moments). I consider these in terms of the embodied cognition approach, a theoretical position inspired by Merleau-Ponty and thus strongly non-dualistic, which was developed beginning in the 1980s in fields such as linguistics, cognitive science, neurobiology, neuropsychology, artificial intelligence and robotics. According to this paradigm “cognition depends on an experience that derives from having a body, with its various sensory-motor capacities,” and “such individual sensory-motor capacities are themselves part of a wider biological, psychological, and cultural context.” 1 Sensory and motor processes, perceptions and actions, are thus inseparable. Cognition is embodied within the entire organism and situated within the world: the meaning of an experience is not reducible to structures in the brain alone but is instead the product of continual and reciprocal connections between the body (of which the brain is a part) and the environment. 2 What will be particularly relevant in this approach to VR – or rather to a virtual simulation of reality – is the hypothesis of embodied simulation, which holds that the perception of an executed action activates the same neural circuits (particularly the so-called mirror neurons) within a perceiving subject as would be activated if they were carrying out that same action. Such structures and neural dynamics would thus lie at the basis of what aesthetic and cognitive psychology, through various eras, gave the general term “empathy,” in order to describe an immediate and pre linguistic modality of comprehending the interior state of the other within the context of a relation, whether real or artificial. 3

Emblematic of the connection between VR and this paradigm is the prevalence of terms that insist on the immersive character of VR works in the discourses and rhetoric that surround their presentation, description, and discussion (particularly in advertising and critical commentary) such as “first-hand experience,” “haptic  amplification,” “corporeal substitution,” “enveloping images,” “sense of presence,” “exploration of the environment,” “personal visceral experience,” “transport,” “beyond the limits of the senses,” or “access to an alternative world.” Most important, however, is the term “empathy machine,” 4 which underscores the work’s ability to either place the spectator in the center of the action or to make them feel the same emotions and interior states as the characters who exist and act within the scene, even before understanding them rationally. As Iñárritu states, “Knowledge can be an obstacle for wisdom. The way we know things is an intellectual process. But I found that the sensorial part of the piece was essential in giving people an understanding.” 5 The basic idea of Carne y Arena, according to its creator, is to experiment with VR technology in order to explore the human condition in an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame, within which things are just observed, and claim the space to allow the visitor to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts. 6

I will argue that the rhetoric of empathy, like that of interactivity, is a characteristic trait of discourses dealing with the relationship between cinema and VR 7 but the forms through which this empathy can be effectively realized could be given more attention. 8 We might say that one in fact finds in these formulations an encounter between a variety of empathies:  the passage from mere observation (implicitly attributed to film viewing) to the lived and direct experience of things; walking in the shoes of the characters in the scene, sharing the same space with them and establishing a deep intersubjective relationship that allows us to explore their human condition; and the stimulation and participation in corporeality – under the skin, into the heart. Empathy can even serve as a weapon against the dictatorship of the frame, because it breaks the creative chains and the perceptual limits imposed by the cinematic regime.

Carne y Arena surely marks an important step in the history of media production and experience, elevating the potentiality of the creative encounter between technology and imagination, and magisterially using the expressive medium of VR to communicate on a political level. More than ever before, we need empathy and all of the media that can create it in order to illuminate our consciousness in regards to the drama of migration. But while the social legitimacy and ethical necessity of this process is beyond question, we might debate the rhetoric of immersive illusion that surrounds the VR apparatus, casting it as the evolution of the cinematic apparatus and as one for which empathy is both the means and the end.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu in front of the entrance to Carne y Arena at Cannes

Alejandro G. Iñárritu in front of the entrance to Carne y Arena at Cannes

Flesh and sand

Carne y Arena is an experimental installation created by director Alejandro G. Iñárritu in collaboration with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki – winner of three consecutive Oscars for Gravity (2013) by Alfonso Cuarón, Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015), both by Iñárritu – composer Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) and George Lucas’s ILMxLAB. The installation premiered at the 70th Festival de Cannes in 2017 and moved to Fondazione Prada in Milan, Italy (June 7, 2017-January 15, 2018).

The visitor moves through a series of environments, of which the one described above is not the first. Upon arriving at the exhibit (at least 20 minutes before the scheduled time) the visitor is invited to sign a waiver, whose text includes some interesting passages: “[the Experience] includes various virtual reality and related activities which may feature a variety of experiences and images, including but not limited to experiences and images that are frightening and/or disturbing.” The visitor thus declares an understanding that “the Experience (is) highly immersive and can feel extremely realistic at times;” and that the “features unique to virtual reality experiences that are intended to enhance the realism of the Experience” come with some important risks: “physical,  psychological  or  health-related  injuries  (including,  without  limitation, nausea,  disorientation,  dizziness,  vertigo,  seizures,  motion  sickness,  general  discomfort, headaches  or  anxiety),  pain,  suffering,  temporary  or  permanent  disability,  and/or emotional  loss.” 9 After having acknowledged these risks, the visitor is invited to go to a coat check room on the floor below, where they can leave jackets, bags, and most importantly smartphones or other audiovisual recording devices, which are strictly forbidden in the installation. At this point the visitor returns to the atrium and is directed towards the “Deposito,” where a supervisor invites him to wait outside for a few minutes. Even if these might seem to be incidental moments, I believe they should be fully considered part of the “Experience,” insofar as they inform the mental and physical disposition of the visitor, like preliminary rites: the waiver as acknowledging awareness, the coat check room as stripping, and the passage through various spaces and waiting outside as an introduction.

Once given the go-ahead, the visitor crosses the first threshold, where he finds himself in a dark room with a statement by Iñárritu on one of the walls. The director explains the almost ethnographic method he used to collect the testimony of several Mexican and Central American refugees, and how he asked them to stage their own experiences in such a way that anyone could share them with the help of VR. This same room is dominated by the logo for the installation: an enlargement of a heart divided by a borderline – on one part “U.S.,” or United States, but also of course suggesting “us”; on the other T.H.E.M.,

Carne y Arena exhibit logo. Design: Neil Kellerhouse

Carne y Arena exhibit logo. Design: Neil Kellerhouse

An unsettling rumble shakes the room more than once while one reads the text, anticipating the extent to which this will occur later on. Then, the visitor enters into the hielera, and from there, at the signal of a siren, into the main space, where he puts on an Oculus Rift while standing barefoot on the sand and literally enters into the scene.

The daylight fades beyond the Western horizon, and sparse vegetation surrounds me. I begin to move around circumspectly and explore the space visually: between the shrubs I glimpse a person, then others. They move closer, climbing over a hill. Two small police trucks belonging to the border police suddenly arrive. A helicopter hovers menacingly over everyone’s head – including mine – and flies over us at a very low altitude. We are struck by a blinding beam of light, the deafening noise of a motor, and blasts of cold air blown from the helicopter blades (produced by a wind machine). There is chaos; the police start to shout orders and interrogate the migrants with pointed rifles. A man (maybe the coyote, the human trafficker) tries to escape and is shot. There are women, a little boy, and a newborn in the arms of his father, who squats down on the ground and clasps onto a woman who holds some milk out to the baby. On their faces we see fatigue and desperation. The helicopter makes another pass, and the agitation reaches its peak. All of a sudden everything seems to stop, and the migrants are now seated around a long table. Some small human figures and a kind of ship seem to be drowning in the liquid surface of the table, recalling another dramatic migration, across the Mediterranean Sea.

Once this reflective parenthesis is closed the scene returns to the searches and the arrests. I move close to some of the migrants and bend over to see their faces better. Now I try to distance myself to see the scene in its entirety, but at least three times I get too close to the walls of the room and the supervisors stop me by lightly pulling on my backpack. I return to the center of the room and all of a sudden, for a fraction of a second, the almost subliminal image of a heart or of internal human tissue throbs before my eyes. One of the policemen yells at me, and it seems that he is upset with me in particular. He points his gun at my chest, looks me directly in the eyes, and even follows me if I move to the right. Confronted in such a direct and brutal way, I nearly put my hands up and throw myself to the ground, but suddenly everything is over. The assistants take the headset and headphones off and invite me to leave through another door.

I am now in an environment similar to the first hielera, but smaller. While I put on my shoes and socks I feel the fine dust of the desert between my toes. Once given the signal, I pass through yet another door, which opens onto a narrow corridor whose left wall is comprised of an imposing sheet metal barrier. As the texts on the wall explain, it is a segment of the actual border fence between the U.S.A. and Mexico, removed months prior to make way for the erection of a new concrete wall.

From here I move into another environment, a square room with black walls. There are nine openings on the wall, each of which holds a small screen. On each screen appears an HD video showing the faces of the migrants involved in the project, nearly immobile, so much so that they seem to be cinemagraphs. From time to time the image blurs, and moving written testimonies concerning what happened after the events experienced at the border appear on the screen.

Invisible Presence

Carne y Arena is thus not a simple 360-degree video, but a full-fledged installation that calls for the passage through a multiplicity and variety of spaces and media experiences. Its heart is certainly constituted by the six and a half minutes during which one finds oneself in the scene thanks the immersive capacities of VR. “Virtually Present, Physically Invisible” – as the installation’s subtitle reads – is an expression that describes this type of experience well. The phrase literally describes this experience but could also apply in a less literal manner to the filmic experience: this too is largely based on the virtual presence of a physically invisible spectator, who is nonetheless engaged corporeally and affectively through simulations and haptic means. In Carne y Arena, the subject’s separation from real space is compelling, and there is a strong sense of presence through which the work places the visitor in the midst of distant events. 10 The solicitation (and perturbation) of the spectator’s vestibular system and emotions (as the waiver anticipates) clearly shows the perceptual, cognitive, and emotional immersion that VR can create, thereby radicalizing the potential for engagement already present in the film experience. Once the borders of the screen’s frame have been taken down, the spectator moves in a scenic-performative space similar to that of a theater. 11 It is, however, the proposition of a corporeal hyper-solicitation in a context that is nonetheless insurmountably spectatorial that illustrates the problematic character of the experience’s embodied nature.

Without Body

First of all, the phrase “Virtually Present, Physically Invisible” should be considered in respect to the self: one is physically invisible not only to the characters in the fiction, with whom one does not interact concretely in any way, but also to oneself. The spectator’s body disappears from the field of vision (she cannot see her hands if she raises them in front of the headset, nor can she see her feet if she tilts her head downward – even if the feet are nonetheless strongly stimulated), and this absence creates a paradoxical conflict between tactile stimulation and visual perception. As Pietro Montani writes, the environment of Carne y Arena “allows us to disassociate ourselves from some of our most well-worn automatisms (first and foremost seeing and touching) while organizing an experiential space in which it is necessary to operate with other rules.” 12 It is this conflict between incorporation and disincorporation, furthermore, that lies at the root of the discomfort – dizziness, nausea, motion sickness – mentioned in the waiver, which would be markedly reduced if the spectator were given some actual form of tactile sensation (as happens in some digital games by way of tactile gloves) that would correspond with seeing his own body in action. Instead, one finds oneself in an environment and in an experience in which participation and corporeal perception are solicited (certainly more than they are in cinema), but at the same time contradicted by a paradoxical invisibility. One is thus not by any means “virtually present,” but rather actually present, by virtue of the explicit appeal to one’s own body, while one is indeed “physically invisible,” but not so much to the other characters as to oneself. The single exception is perhaps that final moment at which, directly confronted by a border officer, the spectator feels as though taken by surprise, “physically visible” to the eyes of the avatar.

This covers the sense of presence and immersion insofar as it functions within the installation. It should be added, however, that the spectator’s sense of presence owing to the more explicit participation of his own body is also a factor that leads to dissociation and emersion. The visitor’s body is in fact addressed from outside of the virtual experience. While the tactile sensation beneath the visitor’s feet certainly makes them feel included in the scene, the more direct contact with the physical environment in which they are located is in fact an element that, if one reflexively takes account of it over the course of the experience, continues to remind them that the real world is out there, outside. This expulsion is even more evident when the very mobility of the visitor within the environment puts his safety at risk: every time that he approaches the walls of the large room in the installation, an assistant pulls on his backpack in order to prevent a collision and set the spectator on the right path. This corporeal stimulation is at once compatible with the virtual scene (for example, attributable to one of the police officers who come to grab the visitor as she tries to escape) and an inevitable reminder of the empirical situation that she is in. The same corporeal stimulation that should augment the sense of immersion is thus clearly a potential factor in creating its opposite. 13

Without Other

Even if the visitor initially approaches the VR component of Carne y Arena with circumspection, attempting to distance herself physically and optically from the spatial center of the events in order to get a view of the whole, she gradually brings herself to the center of the situation in order to better experience the events and emotions, finding herself in the crossfire (not only in the figurative sense) between two sides – the police and the migrants, “us” (U.S.) and “them” (T.H.E.M.). As much as the freedom of movement within the scene seems to work towards establishing the most empathetic relationship possible with the migrants, several aspects of the work considerably reduce the effectiveness of this emotional pull and are likewise attributable to the paradoxical corporeal component of the experience. First, the concrete features of the characters are not very realistic, and more similar to the avatars one finds in video games or virtual worlds like Second Life, even though one perceives them three-dimensionally. 14  Second, due to the mobility allowed to the visitor, it is possible to get close enough to the avatars to touch them, only to find that they are insubstantial and can be passed through as though they were ghosts – a estranging discovery that elicits not only another conflict between visual and tactile perception, but also a contradiction between the emotional palpability and material absence of the other. As Montani notes, the spectators are immersed and active, but still spectators, or rather powerless witnesses, which renders Carne y Arena an experience that is anything but interactive:

It takes little time for the visitor to realize that although the “passivity” (in the wider   sense of “suffering” or “enduring”) is intensified by the specific aesthesis promoted by the installation (…), he cannot take any real “initiative” in this environment, in which he nevertheless moves freely and doubtlessly participates in in a profound way, sharing the fear and horror of those present. Then, and just as rapidly (…) he realizes that this passivity is a structural element of the entire spectacular apparatus (…) 15

Paradoxically, it is the very condition of inactivity that ensures the outpouring of empathy – conditions that are not dissimilar from those of the canonical film experience, in which the spectator’s limited physical mobility ensures the efficacy of cognitive and emotional (but also multimodal) activity. Here too the concreteness of somatic perception in itself is by no means a precondition for empathy. The last room, in fact, offers a fully empathetic experience: the gazes of the protagonists – Lina, Carmen, John, Amaru, Selena, Francisco, Yoni – presented in HD and alternated with written testimony, are intense enough to activate an empathetic itinerary for the spectator who, at the end of his visit, encounters material that is hardly virtual and decidedly realistic, consolidating his immediate experience with the acquisition of a memory that is now truly shared. Only thus does Carne y Arena truly succeed in being a political work (one conceived, furthermore, during the electoral campaign of Donald Trump, which made the Mexican wall one of its major issues.)

Lina, an immigrant from Guatemala, part of the gallery of faces and stories in the last room of Carne y Arena. Photo: Emmanuel Lubezki / Legendary.

Without Screen

Finally, I want to address the “dictatorship of the frame” denounced by Iñárritu as limiting empathy, which I mentioned at the beginning of the article. The expansion of the visual horizon to 360 degrees disrupts some of the fundamental parameters of filmic vision – the edges of the frame, the single point of view, the guiding of attention through editing, angles, and camera movement – in addition to the dynamics of narration. 16  Rather than having it imposed externally, here it is up to the spectator to determine the specific object of his exploration and how to alter it directly from within the scene. This kind of intradiegetic spectator must organize this very open text on his own, without any entity having previously established what to see and how to see it. The spectator edits and advances the sequence himself, embodying (at least in part) the enunciative mechanism of the text, which in cinema establishes a univocal and unchangeable perspective in advance.

Even so, we do not simply move from dictatorship to anarchy: the liberty that the spectator enjoys exists only in moments at which there are no clear stimuli that demand our undivided attention.  In other words, the scene is polycentric and attention multipolar only until one element imposes itself above all others (one thinks in particular of the helicopter, whose light and deafening sound both draws in the spectator and makes him recoil). There are also elements within the virtual environment that need to be seen, and which thus insist on our attention. 17 There are thus moments of the story in which a kind of montage clearly intervenes: for example, the sequence with the migrants around a table, set between the two sequences of the police raid, or the fleeting apparition near the end of the piece of the beating heart. Montage is not seen (physically invisible), but it exists (virtually present). Even in the absence of a delimiting frame, there continue to be cuts in the VR projection, which despite being invisible, break up the continuity of the sequence shot. An off-screen also continues to exist, and its dynamism increases the centrality of what is inevitably excluded from the visual field.

The primary impact of the meeting between cinema and VR is thus a further straining of the unstable borders of the filmic.  After having gotten larger in urban spaces (media façades, wall screens) or smaller in private ones (smartphone and tablet displays), the screen – an emblem of the classical form of filmic experience – seems to vanish. The screen is brought so close to the eyes that it seems to form a kind of camera obscura with the head of the spectator, absorbed into him. As Andrea Pinotti argues, the absence of edges or a frame that delimits the inside and outside of the image facilitates the fusion of image and reality in a new and unique experiential environment: the effort towards the multi-sensorial implementation keeps pace with the task of creating images that become increasingly less distinguishable from reality. These are images that negate themselves as images of something that is itself not an image; images that are paradoxically an-iconic. Images, thus, that become environments. 18

The spectator moves in a total screen-space that seems to be a psychic projection, yet it is this very environmentalization of the screen that brings out the constitutionally filmic nature of cognitive processes: montage and framing continue to exist, without mediations, in their pure and initial optical and mental form.

Incorporation and extension

Following this line of argument, I would like to connect the paradigm of embodied cognition presented above with a neo-cognitive theory that seems complementary to it: the theory of an extended mind.  According to this hypothesis, cognitive processes are determined by the reciprocal interaction between brain, body, and world, implicating structures external to the organism that allow the mind to extend itself beyond the confines of its cranial container. Cognition makes use of external elements, such as the natural environment or cultural elements such as language and technological artifices, for example media like VR. Such external extensions are inseparable from the internal activity of the mind and could thus be said to delocalize it. 19  In this sense, Carne y Arena is not only an experience that activates and implicates processes of embodied simulation, but also an assimilation of the device into the cognitive activity of the user. Furthermore, Carne y Arena simultaneously offers a mental extension that is a media extension (the medium subsumes the body and by taking it somewhere else, in fact does away with it) and a mental incorporation that is a media incorporation (the body appropriates the medium in an almost organic way, and in doing so does away with it: the screen is everywhere and therefore no longer exists). This dynamic is at once one of distribution and of concentration of cognitive and perceptual processes; it is accomplished without a screen, but not without the functions of screening and perceptual organization that it carries out. While the screen appropriates the environment and the body to the point of disappearing within them, the “archi-screen” – as Mauro Carbone would call it 20 – reaffirms itself perhaps even more decisively.

To conclude, I would like to summarize. The conditions of use and the content of Carne y Area, an emblematic example of the hybridization between cinema, art and virtual reality, certainly offer an immersive and empathetic experience. This experience, however, if analyzed phenomenologically, is subject to a dynamic that is paradoxical in multiple senses. First, it is an experience that is both hyper-corporeal and incorporeal: as much as it literally engages the spectator’s corporeality, it eclipses it within its own apparatus, generating a conflict between tactile stimuli and visual perception. Second, it is both an intersubjective and autosubjective experience: empathy is possible only on the condition of a distance from the other. Getting too close can ruin the effect and invalidates any type of relationship whatsoever. Third, it is an experience in which the fact that the screen is everywhere makes it feel as though there is no screen at all: the dictatorship of the frame has fallen, but anarchy does not reign in its place. The screen cedes power to the gaze and the work becomes truly subjective, but an organized perceptual path is still operative. The Body, the Other, and the Screen are thus all virtually present but physically invisible. Carne y Arena is an experience that extends corporeality, alterity, and the borders of spatial perception, but at the same time it remains without Body, without Other, and without Screen. It is an immersive experience, but also constitutionally emersive, one of proximity and distance, of appropriation and loss, of presence and absence: an illusion that is insurmountably partial – at least until the technologies of imagination are completely grafted onto the mind and the human senses are numbed to the point of no longer being able to distinguish, as cinema has already imagined, between reality and its virtual mise-en-abyme.


  1. F.J. Varela, E. Thompson, E. Rosch, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1991), p. 173
  2. K. Hillis, Digital Sensations: Space, Identity and Embodiment in Virtual Reality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).
  3. G. Rizzolatti, C. Sinigaglia, Mirrors in the Brain: How Our Minds Share Actions and Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); V. Gallese, “The roots of empathy: The shared manifold hypothesis and the neural basis of intersubjectivity.” Psychopatology, vol. 36, no. 4, 2003: 171-180.
  4. The expression “empathy machine,” used by the critic Roger Ebert to describe film, was used by director Chris Milk in a 2015 TED Talk in reference to VR. See “Chris Milk: The Birth of Virtual Reality as an Art Form,” https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_milk_the_birth_of_virtual_reality_as_an_art_form
  5. Carolina A. Miranda, “How a migrant woman’s death influenced Alejandro Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning VR project ‘Carne y Arena’”, November 28, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-alejandro-inarritu-lacma-20171127-htmlstory.html
  6. Alejandro G. Iñárritu presents “Carne y Arena”, press release, http://www.fondazioneprada.org/wp-content/uploads/1-Carne-y-Arena_Fondazione-Prada_press-release.pdf
  7. M-L Ryan, Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001). For a critical discussion of the use of the term “empathy” in relation to the VR experience (and for an alternative proposal of “radical compassion”) see G. Bollmer, “Empathy Machines,” Media International Australia 165, no. 1 (2017): pp. 63-76; J.H. Murray, “Not a Film and Not an Empathy Machine,” Immerse: Creative Discussion on Emerging Non-Fiction Storytelling (2016), https://immerse.news/not-a-film-and-not-an-empathy-machine-48b63b0eda93#.y6sxcb2ed.
  8. Virtually There: Documentary Meets Virtual Reality Conference, MIT Open Documentary Laboratory, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Phi Centre, 2016, http://opendoclab.mit.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/MIT_OpenDocLab_VirtuallyThereConference.pdf.
  9. “Carne y Arena”. Waiver and Release of Liability, http://www.fondazioneprada.org/wp-content/uploads/here.pdf
  10. On the concept of “presence,” see M. Minsky, “Telepresence,” Omni, 1980: 45-51; A. Ijsselsteijn, H. Ridder, J. Freeman, S.E. Avons, Presence: concept, determinants and measurement, Proceedings of SPIE, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging, San Jose (CA), 2000; G. Riva G. et al. (eds.), From Communication to Presence (Amsterdam-Berlin: IOS Press, 2006); A. Noë, Varieties of Presence, (Cambridge, MA-London: Harvard University Press, 2012).
  11. S. Popat, “Missing in Action: Embodied Experience and Virtual Reality,” Theatre Journal 68, no. 3 (2016): pp. 357-378.
  12. P. Montani, Tre forme di creatività: tecnica, arte, politica (Naples: Cronopio, 2017), p. 136, author’s translation
  13. For the contrary argument, namely that the sense of presence gives the spectator the impression that the represented events are actually happening, see M. Slater, “Place Illusion and Plausibility can Lead to Realistic Behaviour in Immersive Virtual Environments,” Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 364, no. 1535 (2009): pp. 3549-3557.
  14. On the emotions and the face in immersive environments see M. Dyck et al., “Recognition Profile of Emotions in Natural and Virtual Faces,” PLoS ONE 3, no. 11 (2008); M. Fusaro, G. Tieri, S.M. Aglioti, “Seeing pain and pleasure on self and others: behavioral and psychophysiological reactivity in immersive virtual reality,” J Neurophysiol 116 (2016): pp. 2656-2662.
  15. Montani, Tre forme di creatività, 135, author’s translation
  16. K. Dooley, “Storytelling with virtual reality in 360-degrees: a new screen grammar,” Studies in Australasian Cinema 11, no. 3 (2017): pp. 161-171; J. Mateer, “Directing for Cinematic Virtual Reality: How the traditional film director’s craft applies to immersive environments and notions of presence,” Journal of Media Practice 18, no. 1 (2017): pp. 14-25; J.K. Bucher, Storytelling for Virtual Reality: Methods and Principles for Crafting Immersive Narratives (New York: Routledge, 2018).
  17. On the study of ocular behavior in VR environments, see the experiment described in E. Hitzel, Effects of Peripheral Vision on Eye Movements: A Virtual Reality Study on Gaze Allocation in Naturalistic Tasks (Wiesbaden: Springer, 2015).
  18. A. Pinotti, Immagini che negano se stesse. Verso un’an-iconologia, in P. Montani, D. Cecchi, M. Feyles (eds.), Ambienti mediali (Milan: Meltemi, 2018), pp. 232-233, author’s translation
  19. A. Clark, D.J. Chalmers, “The Extended Mind,” Analysis 58 (1998): pp. 10-23.
  20. M. Carbone, Filosofia-schermi: Dal cinema alla rivoluzione digitale (Milan: Raffaello Cortina, 2016).

About The Author

Adriano D’Aloia, PhD, is Assistant professor of Cinema, photography and television at the International Telematic University UNINETTUNO, Rome. His research focuses on the relationship between audiovisual media theory, aesthetic, and cognitive science. Among his publications, Cinéma&Cie. International Film Studies Journal’s special issue on Neurofilmology. Audiovisual Media and the Challenge of Neuroscience (co-edited with Ruggero Eugeni, 2014).

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