Virtual Humanity—Access, Empathy and Objectivity in VR Film Making

This scene setting considers the meaning of immersive technologies for humanitarian encounters, particularly 360 degree video “virtual reality” film making. Drawing on scholarship on the political economy of technology, aesthetics, affect and visual securitisation, as well as a number of notable deployments of VR films as a tool for NGO and IGO project fundraising, it will consider the interchange between immersion, emotion and action within VR as humanitarian praxis, and what kind of politics this may produce. In particular, the article considers the UNICEF film “Clouds Over Sidra” and the African Parks co-sponsored film “The Protectors” which highlight not only the utility of the technology in creating immersive experiences for audiences and donors but also some of the broader politics of empathy and authorial control arising from a visual technology that purports to allow audiences a more objective “see for yourself” style experience.

Gillespie, C.; (2020) “Virtual Humanity—Access, Empathy and Objectivity in VR Film Making”. In: Global Society Vol 34 Issue 2, Pp. 145—162, DOI 10.1080/13600826.2019.1656173

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