Inhabiting the image of Collisions: Virtual reality cinema as a medium of ethical experience

Adam Daniel

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Many early cinematic virtual reality projects were dominated by a “demo-aesthetic,” focusing primarily on the expressive potential of the medium as opposed to an interventional purpose as an ideologically charged artwork. However, recent films by artists such as Lynette Wallworth, Chris Milk, Gabo Arora, and Felix & Paul have utilised the unique expressive and immersive properties of virtual reality to capitalise on the political and ethical capabilities of this new mode. This paper seeks to examine virtual reality’s potential as a medium of ethical experience, through a critical examination of Australian virtual reality artist Lynette Wallworth’s Collisions (2015). Collisions tells the story of Nyarri Morgan’s firsthand encounter with the effects of nuclear testing in the South Australia desert in the 1950s. As a virtual reality experience, the film utilises aspects of presence to engage the spectator in an ethical understanding of the consequences of Morgan’s witnessing, and the effects of the nuclear testing in relation to the Martu people’s stewardship of the land. This ethical inhabitation is assisted by the altered spatial and temporal dynamics in the experience of the virtual reality spectator.


Virtual Reality; Cine-ethics; Documentary; Presence

To cite this article

Daniel, Adam. “Inhabiting the Image of Collisions: Virtual Reality Cinema as a Medium of Ethical Experience.” Fusion Journal, no. 14, 2018, pp. 6-15.

First published online: December 2018

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