A comprehensive study of the pervasive role of immersion and immersive media in postmodern culture, from a humanities and social sciences perspective.
Virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and other modes of digitally induced immersion herald a major cultural and economic shift in society. Most academic discussions of immersion and immersive media have focused on the technological aspects. In The 360° Gaze, Christian Stiegler takes a humanities and social science approach, emphasizing the human implications of immersive media in postmodern culture. Examining characteristics common to all immersive experiences, he uncovers dominant metaphors, such as the rabbit hole, and prevailing ideologies. He raises fundamental questions about opportunities and risks associated with immersion, as well as the potential effects on individuals, communities, and societies.
Stiegler expands the range of media practices we should consider immersive. Introducing his theoretical framework of “the 360° gaze,” he navigates immersive experiences in literature, film, television, the performing arts, digital games, and immersive technologies. He considers their implications for psychology and reception, as well as their role in cultural industries and digital ecosystems. As he examines the intersections among immersive settings in media and in everyday immersive acts, he reframes such topics as mediation of the self, binge-watching, fandom, extended reality, and artificial intelligence. Immersion, he argues, is key to understanding the role of mass media in postmodern society. Stiegler perceives immersion to be an even more powerful and enduring form of engagement than mediation. Writing as a researcher and storyteller, he provides a guide to rethinking immersion in mediated experiences from the past, to enable us to prepare ourselves for the future.