Virtual reality (VR) offers an exciting new way to represent crises of forced
migration. Like many new technologies, though, VR risks exacerbating
the challenges that exist in more traditional modes of representation,
particularly that of documentary film. This essay examines two VR
projects that depict migrants attempting to cross borders: Carne y Arena
(Virtually Present, Physically Invisible) by Alejandro González Iñárritu
and We Wait, co-produced by Aardman Studios and the BBC. The two
projects differ in technique but share many characteristics as they attempt
to encourage empathy in the viewer through the use of immersive
Migration in the 21st century is one of the pre-eminent issues of our present historical moment, a phenomenon that has acquired new urgency with accelerating climate change, civil wars, and growing economic scarcities. Refugees and Migrants in Film, Art and Media consists of eleven essays that explore how artists have imaginatively engaged with this monumental human drama, examining a range of alternative modes of representation that provide striking new takes on the experiences of these precarious populations. Covering prominent art works by Ai Weiwei and Richard Mosse, and extending the spectrum of representation to refugee film workshops on the island of Lesvos as well as virtual reality installations of Alejandro G. Iñárritu and others, the chapters included here focus on the power of aesthetic engagement to illuminate the stories of refugees and migrants in ways that overturn journalistic clichés.
The effectiveness of a virtual reality experience is strongly affected by the sense of presence of the users involved. This article reviews the different definitions of presence and the main proposed methods to measure it through the analysis of 1,214 papers published in the past 30 years. From the analysis of 239 user studies, we found that 85.8% used subjective measures, 11.7% used a combination of subjective and objective measures, while 2.5% used only objective measures. We also identified, from the studies reviewed, 29 main factors to evoke presence in virtual environments, grouped into four categories: Engagement, Personal Characteristics, Interaction Fidelity, and Display Fidelity.