Immersion (film)

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In the context of its use in German film and media studies, immersion is a loan word from the English, where immersion in everyday use since the 15th century means "deep mental involvement in something" independent of a medium, which, however, essentially in the local scientific debates has taken shape through the discussions of virtual reality and media art .

Thus, Oliver Grau's perspective on immersion in media art is often used in discussions of immersion in film and media studies, although Grau only envisages immersion in a 360 ° environment, which is rarely given in the case of cinema and therefore not groundbreaking can. Grau assumes that cinema had an immersive effect at the beginning of film history around 1895. As evidence for this, he reproduces the story of the audience at the first demonstrations in 1895 by the Lumière brothers in Paris , who supposedly “ran” from the train to provide evidence that only new media at the beginning of their impact history can have immersive effects . However, this narrative about the panic of the Lumières audience was refuted in the 1990s by film historians such as Martin Loiperdinger or Tom Gunning. Only both film historians advocate viewing this story as the “foundational myth” of the cinema, which promises immediate, physical shock effects in the cinema.

The concept of cinematic immersion rather means the kinetic, somatic immersion in a world depicted on film by dissolving the spatial boundaries that still determined theater and opera .

As early as 1937, the art historian Erwin Panofsky noticed the peculiarity of the cinematic space, which also has an immersive effect beyond the plot of cinematic characters and thus enables a media-specific form of spatial perception; cinematic immersion is thus not only experienced in the context of realism, but is caused by the fundamental kinetics of the moving image:

"In the cinema [...] the viewer has a fixed seat, but only physically ... Aesthetically, he is in constant motion, just as his eye identifies with the lenses of the camera, which are permanently in terms of distance and direction Position changes. And the space presented to the viewer is as mobile as the viewer himself. Not only do solid bodies move in the room, but the space itself moves, changes, rotates, loosens and recrystallizes ... "

When referring to the involvement with the human figures in film - for example in feature films - reference can be made to a text by Béla Balázs from 1938. Here Balázs describes the entrance into another world, which is especially reinforced by empathizing with the actions of the characters in the film. In this case, the activity of an "acting person" is essential to the experience:

“The film has destroyed this principle of the old spatial arts - the distance and the separate unity of the work of art. The moving camera takes my eye, and with it my consciousness, with it: in the middle of the picture, in the middle of the action space. I don't see anything from the outside. I see everything as the people involved should see it. I am surrounded by the characters in the film and thus involved in its plot. I go with you, I ride with you, I fall with you - although I physically stay in the same place. "

However, neither Balázs nor Panofsky used the word "immersion" in their contributions, although they are cited in this context in today's research.

There is no consensus in research that cinematic immersion and visual illusion can be used as synonyms, or that immersion in film arises solely from the visual level of experience. Recent research on immersion emphasizes the effect of sound in film and other media for immersive effects. The work of Frances Dyson in particular Sounding New Media Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture or Katharina Rost Sounds that matter - dynamics of hearing in theater and performance , both of which address the immersive effects of film and other audiovisual media, contribute to this Perspective.


Web links

Individual evidence

  2. See Martin Loiperdinger. "Lumière's Arrival of the Train, Cinema's Founding Myth." The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists Volume 4, Number 1 (Spring 2004)
  3. See Tom Gunning “An Aesthetics of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In) Credulous Spectator” in: Linda Williams (Ed.) Viewing Positions. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995. pp. 114-143. ISBN 0485300753
  4. Erwin Panowsky: Style and Medium in the Moving Pictures, in: transition, No. 26, (1937) pp. 124–125.
  5. Béla Balázs: On the philosophy of art in film (1938) . In: F.-J. Albersmeier (Hrsg.): Theory of the film . Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-009943-9 , pp. 204–226, here p. 215.