Virtual Real: The Idea of Interacting

My research as media maker, scholar, teacher, and student is motivated by the absence abound in a divided world. It views media under a philosophical lens, challenging static epistemologies and locating in the myriad forms of media an underlying sense of Being without the Self. It examines how both old and new media might facilitate ethical interactions with unseen, unheard, and unfelt Others, or how these media forms epitomize the worst kind of ideological coercion. An ethics of absence, of other-than-being, typifies my approach for its guiding tenet is one of skeptical inquiry into media product, practice, and consumption that recognizes the dual nature of perception: it takes us from the world, thus returning us to it.

By exploring the fields of virtual reality and documentary — where and how they intersect and to what effect — I attempt to enter into larger debates regarding ethics and the idea of interactivity as they are conceived by today’s globalized media landscape. In (new) media studies, the concept of interactivity is a heated rhetorical battleground, the term itself claimed by both advocates of its use for social change and those who forewarn of coming affective doom. I try to theorize where and how ethics fits into this dichotomy, and what media consumers are doing or should be doing to critically engage with ubiquitous media content. In doing this I treat media practice as working-theory, combining, when necessary, elements such as video remix, VR shorts, photomontage, non-fiction-based interactive “adventures,” and traditional scholarly writing to investigate visual culture, politics, and representability.

My name is Jake Bohrod. I grew up in Mankato, Minn., 90 minutes south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Some people say it’s a suburb, but really it’s too far to be. I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in 2010 where I majored in journalism and minored in film. After teaching ESL in Japan and Turkey respectively I returned to the U.S. and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. I’m currently working towards a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies.

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