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Immersion and participation:
360° environments as a site for the co‑creation of ethnographic knowledge

Conference: ICA 2017, Interventions: Communication Research and Practice
Location: Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel
Date: May 25th-29th 2017


360° environments are typically situated as immersive, experiential forms intended to communicate encounters with a particular place or the embodied perspective of a particular individual. This paper will evaluate a number of recent prototype projects intended to reconfigure such spaces not simply as platforms through which sensory data is communicated but as sites through which knowledge might be co-created.

Through the creation of vivid, multisensory and embodied media during research encounters in the field and the distribution of that media through online collaborative platforms, the traditional paradigms for the production of ethnographic knowledge might be questioned. When experiences of the field can be accessed, analysed and contributed to from anywhere in the world, the power relationships between author, participant and audience might be significantly altered.

The prototype projects will include a multisensory virtual archive of a listed building and a system that facilitates virtual access to the Science Museum’s stores.


Presenting my work at the 2017 conference of the International Communication Association was an important step in validating the contributions of this practice-led PhD beyond the intended purview of ethnography and anthropology. A panel proposal entitled Immersive Visual Technologies and Cultures Revisited was formulated with Paolo Favero and Luc Pauwels from the University of Antwerp and its acceptance was a very encouraging step in the development of my research profile.