Conference Paper
Embodying a Narrative: Spatializing Abstract Narrative Themes for Forensic Exploration

Immersive virtual experiences are becoming more prominent in journalism, yet they largely focus on realistic simulations of the real world. We introduce a novel VR experience that incorporates surrealism and foregrounds the abstract concepts in the journalistic story of Occupy City Hall, the June 2020 sit-in protest in New York, NY. The experience’s virtual environment contains multimedia primary sources augmented with abstracted representations of their interrelated underlying themes. The user experiences an ambiguous interface, which is designed to provoke curiosity, exploration, and critical thinking. The experience has been live-streamed in 2D to audience observers, who responded positively to the diverse concrete and conceptual content, but felt the ambiguous interface was not supplemented with sufficient guidance. Future user studies will involve the full VR experience, to determine the impact of ambiguous interfaces on user engagement, enjoyment, and conceptual learning, as well as comparing this form of journalistic media to others.

Title
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsPrakash M, Kang W(K), Li W, Li KQ
Conference NameCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’21)
Date Published05/2021
Abstract

Immersive virtual experiences are becoming more prominent in journalism, yet they largely focus on realistic simulations of the real world. We introduce a novel VR experience that incorporates surrealism and foregrounds the abstract concepts in the journalistic story of Occupy City Hall, the June 2020 sit-in protest in New York, NY. The experience’s virtual environment contains multimedia primary sources augmented with abstracted representations of their interrelated underlying themes. The user experiences an ambiguous interface, which is designed to provoke curiosity, exploration, and critical thinking. The experience has been live-streamed in 2D to audience observers, who responded positively to the diverse concrete and conceptual content, but felt the ambiguous interface was not supplemented with sufficient guidance. Future user studies will involve the full VR experience, to determine the impact of ambiguous interfaces on user engagement, enjoyment, and conceptual learning, as well as comparing this form of journalistic media to others.