DRHA conference 2019 – Watermans Arts Centre, London – 8-10 September 2019

Radical Immersions

Navigating between virtual/physical environments and information bubbles

Over the past years, immersive technologies have been hyped as consumer gadgets, entertainment media and the future of exhibition practices. The free distribution of VR headsets with smartphones and the increasing interest of museums, festivals and other cultural organisers towards ‘immersive digital content’ have quickly turned VR and AR devices and applications into widely recognized cultural artefacts. The promotion of ‘full immersion’ in the physical spaces of exhibitions and museums has led to some of venues relying solely on interactive projections and audience interaction. However, just like many earlier ‘new media’ before them, the hyperbolic promises attached to these technologies’ supposed capacity to deliver immediacy and trigger a paradigm shift in media culture have thus far hardly become reality.

Meanwhile, social media platforms enable the formation of communities where members immerse themselves in alternate networks of signification in which conspiracy theories are embedded in seemingly consistent information clouds. While these information bubbles are often – but not necessarily correctly – associated with economically and socially disenchanted communities that reject intellectualism, they can also be read as reflections of some of the keystones of post-structuralist thought, especially in their fostering of a rhizomatic approach to ‘fact finding’ and a consistent suspicion that the everyday is in fact a ‘hyperreal’ constructed by entities of power.

The Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts (DRHA) conference 2019 will examine these two perspectives on immersion in digital culture, and aims to identify some of their broader ideological frameworks as well as develop detailed insights into the workings of specific technologies in relation to their promises.


Keynote Speakers:

Prof Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths University of London)

Dr Maria Chatzichristodoulou (aka Maria X; London Southbank University)

Radical Immersions is convened by Dr Dani Ploeger and Dr Elena Papadaki, and hosted by The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in cooperation with Watermans Arts Centre.



We are inviting papers and poster presentations that address questions including, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How are the promises and expectations of VR, AR and other immersive consumer technologies embedded in broader cultural ideologies of progress and innovation?
  • What are the tensions created between immersive technologies and physical environments?
  • How is the space between an all-digital artwork and an all-physical exhibition space negotiated?
  • How do the material aspects of immersive technologies’ hardware affect the generation and perception of immersive content?
  • How might the design, marketing and use of digital platforms determine the ways in which online information communities are formed?
  • To what extent might online ‘filter bubbles’ and other immersive information environments bear parallels to post-structuralist understandings of rhizomatic and fluid meaning-making in text?



In parallel with the conference, a group exhibition will be presented at Watermans Art Centre in September 2019. The exhibition will be curated by Klio Krajewska (Head of New Media Arts Development, Watermans). We are inviting proposals for artworks that engage critically with immersive technologies, news media, and digital culture.


Please submit your abstracts and work proposals at: http://www.2019.drha.uk/ by 30 April 2019