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As I first watched The Shining I had a very strange, specific desire to tilt the camera myself, to look beyond it, to peer around corners before the Steadicam following Danny did.

VR and horror are a natural fit: the immersion VR offers helps us suspend disbelief, and it can intensify genre tropes that exist in traditional horror: the jump scares are more visceral, the ghosts can seem to pass through our skin.

The films position social media platforms as inherently susceptible to intrusion, and to manipulation by invisible third parties, which is borne out in reality: It’s hard to forget that Cambridge Analytica, a firm hired by the team behind Trump’s election campaign, gained access to the private data of more than 50 million Facebook users in an attempt to manipulate voter behavior;

or to use a photo app without considering the ways in which our uploads can be used to train the algorithms in the facial recognition technology offered to law enforcement and private companies (as with concerns raised over Ever and, more recently, FaceApp).

But as Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, notes, “VR can be stored in the brain’s memory center in ways that are strikingly similar to real-world physical experiences… when VR is done well, the brain believes it is real.” VR horror also complicates the power dynamics attached to the viewer’s gaze.

“The subject positions with which the horror film most frequently encourages the spectator to identify,” Barbara Creed writes in The Monstrous Feminine, “oscillate between those of victim and monster but with greater emphasis on the former.” In virtual reality, however, there is no oscillation: we are placed firmly in the former category.

Unlike in film, where we are guided through a narrative (or non-narrative) at a predetermined pace, horror experiences like Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul — one of the most popular VR experiences since its release in 2017, based on one of the highest-grossing horror film franchises of all time — contain no on-screen directions;

This is characteristic of much of VR horror — the developers behind one game even introduced biometric testing to enhance players’ experiences, with an optional heart rate monitor feeding data to AI that adjusts the game according to the player’s heartbeat, spiking the terror when their heart rate is low.

‘Time to stare into couch.’” Another user confessed: “The whole time I was just repeating to myself, ‘Just don’t turn around, just don’t turn around, nothing bad will happen if you don’t turn around, just don’t turn around, just don’t turn around…’”

It manipulates our sense of space as we move through it — Justin Pappas, the founder and creative director of the company behind the game, explained that the rooms of the building “can transform, twist, open up and flip around at the press of a button.” He continues, “seeing the nature of the space that surrounds you change in all-encompassing, real-world scale can be awe-inspiring and very disorienting … making the player never feel truly secure.” The developers behind Affected: The Manor employ similar tactics of spatial manipulation.

While researching for the game, the team visited several live-action horror walk-throughs, concluding that “having no control over what was happening only heightened the player’s anxiety and fear of what was to come next.” In an interview, Creative Director Mark Paul explained that the developers “play with the feeling of height, of confinement, we encroach on the player’s personal space.” Just as VR complicates the dynamics of looking, so too does it complicate our sense of spatial freedom.

VR experiences viscerally evoke the fear that we have no control over our own environments — the sites of our most personal experiences — and, ultimately, our own fates, which are increasingly determined by the algorithms that surveil our day-to-day actions online.

It’s fitting, then, that Hentschker should choose VR as her platform: VR takes what is so often the source of anxiety in horror film — surveillance and loss of autonomy — and requires us to engage with the very technologies that fuel our sense of unease.

Fall 2019 Catalog

Friday: 1:40 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. September 13, 20, 27, October 4, 18, 25 &

November 8 This course will provide an in-depth assessment by knowledgeable local representatives of the current state, importance, and likely development of our region’s agriculture.

September 13: Building a Regenerative Regional Food System Regenerative agriculture  and local varieties preserve our region’s historic advantages in food production and protect the environment overall.

September 20: Food Systems and Farm Models The presenter will describe how food systems and farm models function and their impact on transforming the culture of places.

September 27: History of Agriculture In this region, historic landscapes evolved from crop and sheep farms to specialized dairy farming, orchards, vineyards, and organic farms.

October 4: Hudson Valley’s AgriBusiness Practical economic development programs and projects that are focused on farms can generate local food business as vibrant economic development.


Beam Center--Beam Center powers youth development and learning with creation, collaboration and educator professional development.

A place for learning, designing, collaborating and building.We offer traditional and digital fabrication tools, workshops and events with an emphasis on low cost open source innovation.

MakerspaceMeetup--Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world.

Staten Island Maker Space--Founded in 2013, we are a non-profit, STEAM education and community innovation center offering low-cost access to individuals and groups to the tools, equipment, and resources in our 6000 sq ft facility.

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