Interoceptive Dramaturgies of ‘Surrogate-selves’ in Performative VR Experiences

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Through a close analysis of interoceptive dramaturgies, and by drawing on neuroscientific and cognitive definitions of interoception, this article will explore what is at stake in employing interoceptive oriented design in performative virtual reality (VR) environments and the ethical implications of manipulating corporeal experiences through these perceptual modalities. I examine two contrasting performative VR experiences: a one-to-one interactive virtual reality performance—Goodnight, Sleep Tight (2017) by ZU-UK—and Half-Life Alyx (2020)—a VR game by Valve. The first case study is part one-to-one performance and 360-degree VR video inviting the participant to experience a dream through the eyes of a child. It is a gentle, poetic and subtly constructed VR experience that draws the participant into the world of childhood memories. The second case study is a survival horror videogame set in a three-dimensional (3D) VR environment replete with violence, gore and invasive interactivity. Despite the contrasts between the two case studies I contend, following Liam Jarvis’s (2019) insight, that in both cases players/participants are construed and perform as ‘surrogate selves’ of their respective avatars. I also argue that their experiences are to a great extent conditioned through interoceptive aesthetics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jan 2022


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