<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

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2008-07-04

>> Morton Heilig, "Sensorama", 1962

from "Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality"

In the 1950's it occurred to cinematographer Morton Heilig that all the sensory splendor of life could be simulated with "reality machines." He proposed that an artist's expressive powers would be enhanced by a scientific understanding of the senses and perception. His premise was simple but striking for its time: if an artist controlled the multi-sensory stimulation of the audience, he could provide them with the illusion and sensation of first-person experience, of actually "being there."

Inspired by short-lived curiosities such as Cinerama and 3D movies, it occurred to Heilig that a logical extension of cinema would be to immerse the audience in a fabricated world that engaged all the senses. He believed that by expanding cinema to involve not only sight and sound, but also taste, touch, and smell, the traditional fourth wall of film and theater would dissolve, transporting the audience into a habitable, virtual world. He called this cinema of the future "experience theater", constructing a quirky, nickelodeon-style arcade machine in 1962 he aptly dubbed Sensorama, that catapulted viewers into multi-sensory excursions through the streets of Brooklyn, as well as other adventures in surrogate travel.





The Experience Theater is a version of the Sensorama Simulator but for a larger audience. It was patented in 1969 under patent # 3,469,837. It is a motion picture theater with a large semi-spherical screen, showing 3-D motion pictures, with peripheral imagery, directional sound, aromas, wind, temperature variations and body tilting of the seat. The audience is seated in the focus point in arena seating.


--> virtual reality
--> armchair travel


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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.