This event will be held on Zoom. The link to join will be emailed to the Annenberg community on the day of the event.
About the Talk
This talk considers what a virtual reality experience asks of its participant. Based on ethnographic work with VR producers in Los Angeles, Messeri proposes describing the perspective-taking that is central to VR as embodied omniscience. Users are asked to be present (embodied) in a scene even as they are afforded an omniscience inherent in being an invisible witness. This talk will tack between describing how actors and directors imagine this embodied omniscience and the experience of doing VR pieces (both fictional narratives and documentaries). Joining other scholars who have critiqued VR “empathy experiences” that strive to bring a (presumed) white or otherwise privileged user into a non-white or otherwise disadvantaged person’s world, Messeri explains how embodied omniscience draws attention to the erasure of non-white bodies in order to evoke empathy. This talk will conclude by discussing more recently debuted experiences that respond to these criticisms and demonstrate a more hopeful future for VR as a tool for exploring diverse experiences and embodiments.