One of the newest makerspaces on MIT’s campus exists in virtual reality — where students are pioneering a medium so new that the terminology is still being defined.
In the hands-on humanities class CMS.339 (Virtual Reality and Immersive Media Production) students are grappling with multiple dimensions of making virtual reality (VR), among them: technical challenges, such as how to prevent the fatigue common to users of VR devices; philosophical questions, such as the difference between “presence” and “immersion”; and issues related to the art of storytelling, especially discovering the visual languages and narrative forms that VR enables.
“It takes eight minutes to learn how to make the 360-video camera work. The rest — figuring out the experience you want to make — is your mind,” says instructor Sandra Rodriguez, who first taught the semester-long class in 2017 in collaboration with William Uricchio, professor of comparative media studies. Their class, which made history as the first VR class ever to be offered at MIT, ran again this term.