Visual Tests and Pre-Constructions
With behavior tracking/user experience and tests in between my animation set-up, I researched how to implement a heart-house (experience/heritage) into a VR-space (body/museum):
First I researched what connection people have to their environmental space and 360-visualizations: When we extrapolate the visual information of the totalized little screens most viewers are used to, the viewer is used to get occupied like in the following example. An example are digital news and social media sides, where you always have links to a following related side or article with a diverting character.
But a sphere also brings much more requirements with it then just looking. It is a hot medium. A balance must be created between underload (that creates curiosity and activates imagination) and overload (that gives a “wow effect”).
I analysed three everyday 360-environments. The first is a normal urban one, where most people feel familiar with (https://kuula.co/post/7lpB7 ), the second is a closed space of an underground stop, that could resemble a medical/closed organ (https://kuula.co/post/7lpBN ), and the third (https://kuula.co/post/7lpzT ) is a forest setting, that could resemble an elevated, a transcendent or a nature connected body interior. I reconstructed a normal “look around” and added possible reasons for transitions from one focus point to another. This helped me to place single objects and more complex little “stories/actions” into my final illustrations.
The viewer already gained a deep understanding of switching realities and zooming. He can easily emphasize to be in another space and can imagine himself in another size, because of his grasp of different sizes in which things can be depicted. The transition between macro- and microcosms lost its metaphysical aura, but became something natural and ordinary.
On the other side illusionism (mimesis) is less and less needed and therefore decreasingly used by the viewer. Especially regarding the fast improvement of 3D-media. Where you before had to consciously assume that especially a two-dimensional image is three-dimensional because of the elaboration of its surface, you more and more consume unconsciously. Pictures get more and more digital and equipped with features that perfectly simulate a real depth. This fact in mind, I played around with the contrast, using e.g. flat images with no completely perfect perspective, but nevertheless presenting them in a 360-sphere. This gives it more the character of an elevated but traditional 360-illustration then a highly modern VR-experience.
Reality and distortion:
Regarding another aspect, though, the viewer seems to lose his feeling for natural depth. Not only in content, but also in a visual way, media devices like smartphones and other screening techniques depict the reality in a distorted way.
In his book “Flesh and Stone”, that also approaches interactions between human and space, Sennett gives a fitting example: Driving through the landscape with a non-human speed, the person changed into a passive body that has no natural resistance/renitence anymore. This thought continued into our age of digitalisation, the body more and more vanishes.
So it can become an experience itself to look with your whole body (in a 360 space) instead of looking in the common translation of a flat screen to eye to brain.
In the normal viewer’s perception, when his eyes are open, he focuses on something. In the example, it is a little illustration “on the wall” (my first sketch for a heart in a medical cross-section). Subconscious the viewer measures the distance to the point he is looking at. Therefore, the interaction line between his eyes and the illustration become the centre of perception. But when he is surrounded by the illustration, his head may become this centre. When you completely feel like standing in a scene, even the whole body can turn into it.
Taking time, skills and following design decisions into account, the final VR-variant I use for the construction of my final visual will be a 360-animation with a static viewpoint and no extra interaction then the possibility to move around the viewpoint angle. On every device one can click and drag to look around, on touch devices one can swipe, portable devices with motion sensor you can swing around to see every angle, and with VR-glasses you have the most immersive possibilities except motion tracking and a parallax effect (an advanced special vision).
VR-techniques bring the viewer into the conflict, that no matter if the depicted worlds might be fictive or representing quite “real worlds”, the viewer gets similarly immersed and therefor excluded from the real environment.
For the experience, I want to create – that is primarily body-focused – it is an advantage to blind out the real world completely. It is like in the meditation experiment, where you close your eyes to concentrate on your body. But in this case I give the images:
 “Nothing is left to the imagination: the picture is complete, full, saturated. … [It] is overfed with information and thereby ‘heated’.”, Definition of hot media, In Arjen Mulder, Understanding Media Theory, 2004, 42-43
 Oliver Grau. Virtual Art. From Illusion to Immersion, 19-20
 Sennett, Flesh and Stone, 1994, 24-25