From the architectural spectacle of the medieval cathedral and
the romantic sublime of the nineteenth-century panorama to the
techno-fetishism of today's London Science Museum, humans have
gained a deeper understanding of the natural world through highly
illusionistic representations that engender new modes of seeing,
listening, and thinking. What unites and defines many of these
wondrous spaces is an immersive view-an invitation to step inside
the virtual world of the image and become a part of its universe,
if only for a short time.
Since their inception, museums of science and natural history
have mixed education and entertainment, often to incredible,
eye-opening effect. Immersive spaces of visual display and modes of
exhibition send "shivers" down our spines, engaging the distinct
cognitive and embodied mapping skills we bring to spectacular
architecture and illusionistic media. They also force us to
reconsider traditional models of film spectatorship in the context
of a mobile and interactive spectator.
Through a series of detailed historical case studies, Alison
Griffiths masterfully explores the uncanny and unforgettable
visceral power of the medieval cathedral, the panorama, the
planetarium, the IMAX theater, and the science museum. Examining
these structures as exemplary spaces of immersion and
interactivity, Griffiths reveals the sometimes surprising
antecedents of modern media forms, suggesting the spectator's
deep-seated desire to become immersed in a virtual world.
Shivers Down Your Spine demonstrates how immersive and
interactive museum display techniques such as large video displays,
reconstructed environments, and touch-screen computer interactives
have redefined the museum space, fueling the opposition between
public and private, science and spectacle, civic and corporate
interests, voice and text, and life and death. In her remarkable
study of sensual spaces, Griffiths explains why, for centuries, we
keep coming back for more.
Subjects: Film Studies, Technology, General Science
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