Evoking presence through creative practice on Pepper's ghost displays.
This thesis proposes a theoretic framework for the analysis of presence research in the context of Pepper’s ghost. Pepper’s ghost as a media platform offers new possibilities for performances, real-time communication and media art. The thesis gives an overview on the 150 year old history, as well as contemporary art creation on Pepper’s ghost with a specific focus on telepresence. Telepresence, a concept that infused academic debate since 1980, discusses the topic of remote communication, perceived presence transmitted through networked environments. This discourse of telepresence revealed shortcomings in current analytical frameworks. This thesis presents a new model for presence in the context of my research. The standard telepresence model (STM) assumes a direct link between three fundamental components of presence and a measurable impact on the audience. Its three pillars are conceptualised as presence co-factors immersion, interactivity and realism, presented individually in the framework of my practice.
My research is firmly rooted in the field of media art and considers the effect of presence in the context of Pepper’s ghost. This Victorian parlour trick serves as an interface, an intermediary for the discussion of live streaming experiences. Three case studies present pillars of the standard model, seeking answers to elemental questions of presence research. The hypothesis assumes a positive relationship between presence and its three co-factors. All case studies were developed as media art pieces in the context of Pepper’s ghost. As exemplifiers, they illustrate the concept of presence in respect of my own creative practice.
KIMA, a real-time sound representation experience, proposes a form of telepresence that relies exclusively on immersive sound as a medium. Immersion as co-factor of presence is analysed and explored creatively on the Pepper’s ghost canvas. Transmission, the second case study, investigates the effect of physical interaction on presence experiences. An experiment helps to draw inferences in a mixed method approach. The third case study, Aura, discusses variations of realism as presence co factor in the specific context of Pepper’s ghost. The practical example is accompanied by an in-depth meta-analysis of realism factors, specifically focusing on the intricacies of Pepper’s ghost creative production processes. Together, these three case studies help to shed light on new strategies to improve production methods with possible impact on presence in Pepper’s ghost related virtual environments – and beyond.