Assembling with VR

Dancing in a more than human world




virtual reality, dance, embodiment, empathy, immersion, presence, Barad, intra-action, assemblage


In this paper, we consider the claims that constellate around the concepts of immersion, presence and empathy that have been made about virtual reality across many disciplines of study, including psychology, criminology, immersive film and media. These claims are applied to an interdisciplinary, collaborative project: VR Dance; which engaged young people (11-16 years) in hip hop and immersive technology workshops over a six-week period. We discuss the ways in which co-created immersive environments which centre the body offer potential to tune into and re-calibrate our sensitivities and modes of engagement with each other and the environments we are in. We argue that this is not simply as a result of technology’s effects on individuals but constituted in wider assemblages of human and nonhuman actors.  We make the case for virtual reality, not as a tool for ‘becoming other’, but as part of wider assemblages in ongoing transformations, relocations, and calibrations.

Funding Acknowledgement

VR Dance is an East London Dance programme, funded by the Mayor of London’s Young Londoner’s Fund & the London Borough of Redbridge and delivered in partnership with the University of Bristol, BirdGang Ltd, Maskomi and PlayLa.bZ.


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A woman dancing wearing VR goggles