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Mediating Interactive Performance in Virtual Space

Swapp, D; (2009) Mediating Interactive Performance in Virtual Space. In: (Proceedings) Performing Presence.

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Abstract

This paper describes an interdisciplinary examination of presence that attempts to relate understandings of presence from the perspectives of theatre studies and virtual reality (VR). As well as considering presence in the context of a theatrical event or performance, “presence” can also be understood as a key concept relating to our experience of virtual environments. In this context presence is understood to be the degree to which we behave and engage with a simulated experience as if it were real. The term social presence extends this notion to include our engagement with virtual characters (avatars). Both the theatrical and VR understandings of presence are contentious. In the VR context there is debate around the definition and utility of presence, as well as around methodology for gauging a person’s sense of presence. Our approach was to construct a performance scenario during which we manipulated elements likely to elicit presence (in both senses of the term). The spectator experienced the scenario via an immersive VR setup commonly known as a CAVE. This allows a novel relationship between spectator and performance, by situating the spectator within the virtual space. By placing avatars within the performance setting we could alter aspects of both the performance and the avatars’ behaviour while observing how this affected the experience of the spectator. The results of this study have implications for both theatre practice and the design of virtual characters in terms of both appearance and behaviour.

Type:Proceedings paper
Title:Mediating Interactive Performance in Virtual Space
Event:Performing Presence
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Computer Science

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