January 20, 2015

Here is a text written for a aquatic VR project in development, produced by the Pyaré Studio, with the world record free diver Jessea Lee.

EMERSION – The promise of virtuality

Developed in 2014 by Bernard Andrieu and his doctoral students at Paris-Descartes, emersiology is an interdisciplinary science that seeks to describe what involuntarily emerges from the living in the consciousness of its lived experience. Its vocation is to develop this philosophy of the body.

EMERSION is a reference to Jules Verne’s L’Île mystérieuse: when the island emerges and involuntarily rises to the surface. Ask yourself in philosophical terms about this principle of rising to the surface : What is it which is emerging? is it the subject that produces it? What is perceived?  In emergence, there is disappearance. In this visceral journey, there is also the emergence of a body within a body. The experience involves putting visitors into a state of consciousness to bring out another part of themselves. This is accompanied by a loss of control, of the involuntary. I would like to create EMERSION as a magic trick that reveals something in us that shouldn’t exist. Immersion, submersion, emersion … This experience simulates the absence of gravity, and bypasses the predispositions of the brain for a baptism of all the senses.

For me, aquatic VR fulfills the promise of virtual reality – that of an experience that allows you to rediscover the wonder of trying VR for the first time. The experience of being in a virtual world while being in the water creates a double immersion, and gives another impression of our body sensations. For Janet Murray, in her book Hamlet on the holodeck, immersion is a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being immersed in water. We feel psychologically the same immersive experience as when diving in the ocean or in a swimming pool: the feeling of being completely surrounded by an entirely different reality, as different as water or air, which holds all our attention, which monopolizes our perception. In my opinion, with aquatic virtual reality, the metaphor of immersion is fully realized.