In the beginning, there were cave paintings. And with that, mankind moved into an age where thoughts could be shared with others, in the absence of the original thinker. Mankind had invented static media.
Then, not long ago, mankind invented dynamic media. Audio. Movies. Video. Streaming media. Call it what you will, it differed from static media in that it had an element of time. One second worth of content takes one second. Most unlike static media, which is timeless.
Today there is much consensus that we are witnessing the dawn of virtual reality. As cave paintings heralded the dawn of static media, and the telephone heralded the dawn of dynamic media, virtual reality heralds the dawn of immersive media.
Static media describes everything from cave paintings to books to newspapers to comics to posters to photographs to illustrations. Static media has no time, and no space.
Dynamic media describes everything from radio to movies to music albums to TV to video games. Dynamic media has time, but it has no space.
Immersive media describes everything from the VR goggles that were released (to great fanfare) over the weekend to the holodeck on Star Trek. Immersive media has time and space.
Virtual reality (and augmented reality) do not have a “box” around the content. When you watch a movie, or a TV show, you are watching the content of the dynamic media unfold within the confines of a rectangular box. Basic principles of composition, often borrowed from static photography, apply here: every frame of the film will exist within a frame.
With immersive media, this bounding box simply does not exist. You do not perceive a “mix” of the content (within the rectangle) and the real world (outside of the rectangle) – you entire visual perception is filled with the content of the medium. You are “immersed”.
The early adopters of cave painting could not have imagined Moby Dick or The Mona Lisa. The early adopters of telephony and moving pictures could not have imagined Good Vibrations or Back to the Future. Those who work furiously today creating the hot new VR headsets, and demo content for them, likewise have no idea what immersive media will give rise to.