Half-real worlds? Immersion and the representation of musical pasts in virtual reality

Adam Whittaker*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (SciVal)


    To speak of a musical past is to engage in a challenging, but creatively stimulating, process of recovery of complex and ephemeral phenomena. The possibilities are so tantalising that we cannot help but do this. This is far from a new problem. For late-medieval readers, the book was a transportative medium for the mind, slingshotting the reader into another time and place, with each page laden with encoded symbolic and paratextual relationships. Rather than being seen simply as ‘flat’ media lacking the interactivity of modern interfaces, such documents may provide a template for understanding transhistorical readings of spaces that straddle fact and fiction. We might therefore provocatively consider whether a modern viewer/participant using a headset and/or other virtual reality (VR) hardware has a significantly different experience to that of a reader several centuries ago. This chapter explores concepts of immersion to demonstrate how VR constitutes an emergent musico-historical visual culture in its own right, proposing that an expanded form of the rhetorical concept of ductus may offer a productive frame of reference.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHistory as Fantasy in Music, Sound, Image and Media
    Place of PublicationNew York
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)9781040012673
    ISBN (Print)9781032271866
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 11 Apr 2024

    Publication series

    NameMusic and Visual Culture


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