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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 11 / 26





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These theories have had a substantial impact on technical aspects of cinematography

through the use of particular camera angles and positions, but their contribution to the

theory sought for VR is more problematic. In Cinema, the camera is under authorial

control, so that the ideal observer it represents is in some sense the narrator. In VR,

the camera is identified with the user, and removing their control over it directly

contradicts the freedom to move and look that is one of the major defining

characteristics of the medium. In this sense, VR moves beyond mimesis – ‘showing’ –

with its implication of direction, to ‘experiencing’. Thus though both Cinema and VR

share a synthetic visual aspect there are fundamental differences between them which

make the narrative theory of film much less useful than one might have assumed.

Given that Aristotle gives little theoretical weight to the role of emotion in narrative

(as distinct from its emotional impact upon the spectator), it is not surprising that the

subsequent theories already mentioned do not pay any particular attention to emotion

and its values. It is now believed that emotions play an important role in human

cognition and are a major factor in the establishment of believability [20]. A narrative

theory for VR must encompass the emotional contribution to believability, which

contributes towards providing the user with a unique immersive experience.

Eisenstein’s expressionist approach [4] was to regard narration as making manifest

some essential emotional quality of the story [2]. With the aim of a satisfactory user

experience in mind, this expressionist narrative conception might be included in the

consideration of a narrative model proper to VR.

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