Expanded Notes on the Exhibitionary Conditions of Virtual Reality


Session Title:

  • Machinic Sense & Sensibility: The Problem with Immersion

Presentation Title:

  • Expanded Notes on the Exhibitionary Conditions of Virtual Reality



  • By acknowledging that virtual reality is experienced in real space, this curatorial research posits that the ways in which mediated curatorial and museological contexts describes a distinctive set of exhibitionary conditions. As will be developed here, VR and museums, in their own respective ways, function as multi-dimensional spaces in which aesthetic experiences are situated. By critically reflecting upon field research involving notable VR artworks – including my first-hand exhibition encounter with filmmaker Alejandro Iñárritu’s celebrated Carne y Arena (2017) being focused upon here – I will argue that critical examination of immersive experience should not be based on an interpretation of the visual and affective qualities of the simulated, virtual image alone; but instead be responded to more expansively by contextualizing its viewing experience as part of a broader, unfolding exhibition encounter that the work’s gallery-based installation supports. These supplementary notes extend the line of inquiry initiated in my previous theorization of Carne y Arena by drawing Edward Kienholz’s environmental tableaux Five Card Stud (1969-72) into this constellation of concerns. In doing so, this text will extrapolate how the horizon of VR extends well beyond the cinematic to the cinematographic, and onto the curatorial design of exhibition space itself.