Crisis Collective, the 11th SAR International Conference on Artistic Research

30 minutes format, including discussion

Post-immersion: Creating a Discursive Situation in the (Immersive) Media Arts

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

Independent Artist and Researcher




Immersion is a much-loved word in the domain of media art. It is through immersion that the audiences are often made to engage with the media artworks, through technical devices and medial dispositive that are at the intersection of culture and materiality in a post-digital era. In this mode of artistic representation, immersion operates as a context for realizing the production of presence as an illusion of non-mediation (Reiter, Grimshaw et al). The main concern of this proposed paper is whether the audience tends to become a passive and non-acting guest within the immersive space often constructed by an authoritarian and technocratic consumer-corporate culture. I will argue in the paper that in this mode of non-activity the audience may lose the motivation to question the content and context of the work by falling into a sensual and indulgent mode of experience, therefore allowing the consumerist-corporate powers to take over the free will of the audience (Lukas et al). From the position of a socially and environmentally committed media artist myself, in this paper I will argue for producing a discursive context rather than an immersive one in forthcoming media artworks that aim to represent contemporary crisis such as climate breakdown in the anthropocenic conditions, and critically engaging with the often-ignored and invisible but inevitable emergency situations. I will examine the possibility to create artworks where the critical individuality of the audience is carefully considered and taken into account as a crucial parameter for the evaluation and dissemination of the artwork in this crisis and emergency. I will discuss a number of artworks with a self-reflective analysis to develop and substantiate my argument.

Works to be discussed:

Decomposing Landscape (2018)[1] is an ongoing project that offers an in-depth listening to the climate change-affected transfiguration of rural landscapes in the Global South, undergoing environmental decay and destruction due to an economic development model that often ignores the environmental balance, ecology and green policies in favor of rapid growth and profitmaking. The globe has entered the Anthropocene – defined by unprecedented human disturbances over earth’s environment and ecosystems. The performance and installation of the work incorporates VR platform of 360-degree video and live multichannel sound diffusion in wireless headphones where the video and sound responds to the audience asynchronously – as the audience moves the head-tracking moves both sound and video. Through this performative and asynchronous interaction between video projection and live surround sound diffusion, the work intends to create a discursive situation within an immersive space in which a decaying landscape can be experienced contemplatively. This discursive-interactive methodology is an attempt to challenge and disrupt the generally accustomed immersive experience of the VR artworks with a moment of personal awareness.

Machine Poetry (2019)[2] is a generative sound installation that searches for poetic openings in the machine-induced sound-world and advocates for poetic contemplation involving pre-cognitive association, impromptu flashes and sudden explosions of memory, sensitivity and perceptiveness for an altered and subjective reality as the critical emergence of an augmented intelligence. The work responds to the currents of ultra-capitalism is manipulating our understanding of the social and environmental realities by proliferating numerous delusions like growth, urban expansion, development, consumption, difference and competition as natural. The methodology of this participatory and discursive installation work includes diffusing the sounds of spoken words within a site-responsive and generative sound environment to trigger a poetic rupture in the tensed urban environments searching for emancipation. Machine Poetry was exhibited as an 8-channels sound installation with single-channel live visuals at Akusmata gallery in Helsinki between August and September 2019.[3]

Towards an Amicable End (2020 -)[4] is collaborative project that facilitates a meeting between Eastern musical practices around free improvisation and Western classical instruments to excavate and explore the theme of fatalism as a survival strategy in the context of contemporary crises of the climate breakdown, a global pandemic and the rising protectionism and nationalism. Can there be an auditory equivalence to the gleam of acceptance against the darkness of fear and anxiety due to the climate catastrophe? A regenerative live improvisation for radio, violin, double bass and live electronics incorporates archival field recordings of primary climate variables like water, wind, and woods, gathered through ethnographic research in ecologically troubled sites, environmental phenomena transduced by custom-built radio receivers and live generative processes, presented in a series of live performances.[5]

  1. ↩︎

  2. ↩︎

  3. ↩︎

  4. ↩︎

  5. ↩︎