Expanding Sensitivity in Immersive Media Environments


Session Title:

  • The Ecosophic World: Plants and Biophilic Architectures

Presentation Title:

  • Expanding Sensitivity in Immersive Media Environments



  • This paper proposes a shift in aesthetics that can account for the bio-chemical dimension of subjective experience. We argue that this shift allows to become more sensitive to how we experience, instead of focusing on just what we feel. To achieve this, we focus on media environments that manipulate temperature, air flow, or oxygen levels in the air, in order to affect human subjects in a bodily as well as emotionally-affective manner. We argue that media environments that intensify climatic processes so that they can be sensed, potentially change what we consider to be important in our environment and what we include in our consideration of future actions. To explore this shift, we will take an immersive virtual reality (VR) environment that we have created to flesh out the characteristics of such an embodied aesthetics. The VR environment represents a natural surrounding in which the participants’ respiration impacts the growth of virtual plants.

    Over the course of five minutes the participants experience the correlation of their own metabolic processes, the photosynthesis of the plants, and the rising temperature in the surrounding with different sense modalities. Based on observations of emotional and behavioral responses to relations mediated by the environment, we propose that an aesthetics of metabolism allows us to become more sensitive towards our own bodily involvement with the world and towards other sentient beings we are sharing the world with. Lastly, we believe the media environment presented here illustrates how a practical aesthetics and prototyping can help developing new forms of knowledge in the humanities and provide best practice examples for interdisciplinary research.