Underwater Virtual Reality

VR experience relies on a multimodal stimulation which goes far beyond audio-visual perception and involves also the senes of touch, prorpioception, thermoception, and equilibrioception Notions such as presence, empathy, and immersion – which are usually employed to describe immersion in the theatrical film experience – acquire an almost literal sense in VR, whose medium technology enhances (yet sometimes interferes with) the user’s psychic and physical agency and creates a multi-sensory experience. In this paper presented at the XXIV International Film Studies Conference From Spectacle to Entertainment Cinema, Media and Modes of Engagement from Modernity to the Present at Roma Tre University from November 21 to 23,) I take neo-cognitive epistemological tools and critically analyze and discuss a radical case of VR immersivity for entertainment: the use of VR headset set underwater. Differently from the use of aquatic environment as a representational virtual location (figurative immersion), special water-resistant VR headsets allow the user to dive into a swimming pool and experience literal immersion. Rather that (or not only) virtually “transported” into a watery environment, the spectator is physically immerse into and in contact with water and its sensual qualities (temperature, fluidity, reduced gravity, etc.).