Immersive Media

I used to think—and I still do—that reading is the most immersive media.  In silence, you can transport yourself to entirely Other worlds by yielding up your ghost to the guidance of another Voice.

What absolutely floored me today, however, was my discovery of a new immersive media that almost trumps the implosive power of silent reading: 3D binaural stories.  A [brilliant] friend of mine, Celu Ramasamy, has created a group that is pioneering new storytelling media, and Mind Theater is arresting.  It is reminiscent of radio theater because you listen, but it is spelling binding because it is like 3D film.  Plug in your headphones, run the calibrator, and close your eyes.  The sounds are real.

You can't give in just a little...

You can't give in just a little...

I felt the space around me and caught myself looking over my shoulder just to be sure I wasn’t on the train to India with the Son going home to his Father’s village.  Rain outside their house is near and far simultaneously.  The house is close and hot because the air echos on the bare walls and sits backs down beside me after the last reverberation.  When the Son fills a glass of water for the Father, I know the tap was exactly three feet behind me to the left; he carried it past me to his Father, on my right.

As absorbing and relaxing as this 30-minute aural experience ultimately proved, I was undone by listening to parts of it with my eyes open.  Like the unnerving scene in Hitchcock’s Rebecca when Maxim de Winter recounts a conversation with his deceased wife to an empty room and the camera follows her movements although she isn’t there, so also, I could see the Indian Father and Son walk across my bedroom with their glass of water and dinner in hand.  The front porch where they ate supplanted my computer desk before me, and, while my parakeets flew overhead, delighting in a sojourn about my bedroom, the rain poured out of the Indian sky, drenching my tiny Georgian existence.

That’s when I discovered what makes any media, any experience immersive: exclusion.  Reading takes you places because you close off your other senses, save only your racing eyes.  The new 3D stories take you places because you close off your other senses, save only your ears.  Dessert is the best part of the day when all you do is taste it.  And the touch of a lover is never sweeter than when you completely surrender the other four defenses.  Wholeheartedness is addictive.

Our increasingly stimulating media environment is said to “drown” us, and, yes, your lungs will fail if you open your eyes, your ears, and your mouth, sucking in the ocean with every pore.  But, if you close your eyes, your ears, your mouth, and repeatedly reach out to touch, you will find you can swim.  It is glorious to be absorbed.

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