Approaches and Theories
Urban Mixed Reality (MR) environments need to take into account the situated and social nature of the real world spaces in which they are placed. This raises a number of significant challenges for our understanding of presence that goes beyond the existing exploration of ‘telepresence’. A central question is how to approach the design, construction and assessment of MR environments to promote an appropriate sense of presence in relationship to the real world, the mediated mixed reality experience and other users.
The current presence framework, where the experience of presence is a complex, multidimensional perception, formed through an interplay of raw (multi-)sensory data and various cognitive processes , has the following features:
- It is based on a dualistic assumption: there is a separate “world” and “mind”: perception of objective presence in world creates a subjective sense of presence in mind
- Reality is taken as granted – there exists a “natural” world which is the same to everybody
- The place (either virtual or real) providing the stimuli that is perceived by a human has a dominating influence in the experience of presence; human actions can only strengthen or diminish this experience, the origin is always in the place
- Rich enough interaction can fool senses so that a subjective sense of presence is created even in a virtual environment.
If we want to take our experiments to real life in urban space, something else is needed to replace such a laboratory-based approach. An initial criticism is provided by Mantovani & Riva. According to them this kind of definition of presence, based on physical presence is critically unfounded and also prejudicial for the development of systems to support co-operation and communication, and they suggest instead that the concept of presence should be based on social construction of presence, where reality is continually being negotiated and filtered by artefacts, by means of which we adapt the environment to our needs and at the same time adapt ourselves to the environment in order to exploit the affordances it offers to us . To grasp the active orientation, social character, or materiality and artifact-relatedness of situations of “presence” in mixed reality environments, the origanisers of the workshop have in their own research drawn for example from Gibson’s ecological theory of perception , from CSCW , and from Activity Theory , but there certainly are many other useful theories and approaches that could be brought to bear in the development of a better conceptual toolset to deal with mixed realities.
 Ijsselstein, W. & Riva, G. (2003) Being there: The experience of presence in mediated environments. In Riva, G., Davide, F. & Ijsselstein, W.A. (eds.) Being there: Concepts, effects and measurements of user presence in synthetic environments, pp. 3-16, IOS Press, Amsterdam.
 Mantovani, G. & Riva, G. (1999) “Real” presence: How different ontologies generate different criteria for presence, telepresence, and virtual presence. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual environments no. 8 vol 5, 538-548.
 Gibson, J.J. (1986) Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
 Schmidt, Kjeld (2002) The Problem with ‚Awareness’: Introductory Remarks on `Awareness in CSCW”. Computer Supported Cooperative Work 11: 285-298.
 Cole, M., & Engeström, Y. (1993). A culturalhistorical approach to distributed cognition. In G., Salomon (Ed.), Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations (pp. 1-46). New York: Cambridge University Press.