Cultural topographies of Immersion

Pressemitteilung vom 24. November 2011

Cultural topographies of Immersion

In recent days the concept of immersion is often applied to scrutinize the complex relation between humanity and the virtual realities generated by computer technology. Here immersion describes the process of surrendering and plunging oneself into digitally simulated worlds; a process being peculiarly active and passive at the same time. The inter-disciplinary volume What Does a Chameleon Look Like? edited by Stefanie Kiwi Menrath and Alexander Schwinghammer attempts to liberate the concept of immersion from the technical and digitally-oriented rubrics under which it is often thought and to provide a cultural topography of immersion.

From a historical perspective the discourse on immersion reflects both the positivist-utopian fascination for the relationship between human and machine as well as an uneasiness about this relation, which occurred with the advent of the visual mass media. Due to the increased influence of high technology on today’s society the notion of immersion has had a pervasive impact on discussions about the artificiality and aestheticization of contemporary consumer worlds since the 1990s. The “society of immersion” developing out of this new mode of consumption has been the focus of critique linked to Debord’s concept of the “society of the spectacle.” In recent days the debates about the relation between human and machine respectively computers have returned. With computer based technology becoming conceptualized as an internal and external second nature. In these terms, immersion re-appears as a human capability rather than a source of anxiety.

The volume results from a joint conference of the Graduiertenkolleg Bild – Körper – Medium. Eine anthropologische Perspektive of the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe, the Graduiertenkolleg InterArt of the Free University Berlin and the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London. Stefanie Kiwi Menrath is a PhD-candidate at the Centre for Cultural Studies in Goldsmiths London and part of the International Research Training Group InterArt at Free University/Berlin. Alexander Schwinghammer is currently working as a scientific assistant at the Faculty of Art and Design at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.


Stefanie Kiwi Menrath

Stefanie Kiwi Menrath is a doctoral student in the international research training group InterArt. With Alexander Schwinghammer she organized the Interkollegiale Conference ›That’s what a chameleon looks like. Illusion – Imagination – Immersion‹ 2008 at FU Berlin. She is currently working on a PhD-project about the Pop Music Persona at CCS Goldsmiths. ...

Alexander Schwinghammer

Alexander Schwinghammer is a research associate at the Bauhaus University in Weimar and he was a fellow at Image-Body-Medium in Karlsruhe. His research project on visual dramaturgies of war is jointly based at the CCS Goldsmiths and the Institute for Cultural Anthropology, Goethe-University Frankfurt. ...