ADELA MUNTEAN (1988) is a transmedia director and researcher developing creative concepts that fall within the documentary genre. Her current projects deal with 360 VR photography and video and the implementation of tactile interfaces in order to create experiential works.

She is also interested in methods associated with moving image documentary practices which merge with new media hybrid arts and explore the intersection of art, anthropology, documentary film and the possibilities made available by the internet: webcams, Google Street View, archives, etc.

The main criterion of her works is to engage with the real in creative ways.

In 2014 her works were presented in Holland within the framework of Live Performers Meeting festival (LPM); in France during the Sophia Digital Art Festival and in Italy, Milano during “La Repubblica delle Idee 2014″ event.

In 2015 she won the Digital Visions project first prize organized by GéoCulture Limousin (France).

In the same year as part of Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (BIEFF) she led the conceptual/art direction part of an Architecture Film Workshop.

Her on-going project is devoted to the changing role of the moving image and classical cinema in the digital age.

She has been awarded a Master’s Degree graded excellent and the professional qualification of Media Designer at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest, Hungary (2015). She completed her BA studies in cinematography, photography and media at the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Faculty of Sciences and Arts, Cluj Napoca, Romania (2011).

From representation to experience: 

documentary approaches to Virtual Reality

Practitioners and researchers have long been inspired by the idea of using technology, games and simulations as a tool to express, to analyze, debate, comment and editorialize major international news or make us think about what is going on in this world. Their aim is pushing the limits, questioning and provoking the mediums, themselves and the spectators in the same way. Concerning a future where cinematic experiences are participatory and audiences would interact with narratives, today’s storytellers newest tool to experiment and to achieve this goal is Virtual Reality (photo, video and „true” VR)- an experential medium where the spectator feels like  part of the simulated world discovering the narrative by inhabiting the specific world.

In the continually changing technology what will be the shift for inventing an entirely new medium in the art of storytelling? In which ways will Virtual Reality affect the evolution and revolutionize if applied to the genre of non-fiction? What new ways of expression and mode of perception will VR create by bringing this transfer from representation to experience in non-fiction worlds?

My interest lies in observing what will be the fast development, the possibilities and the complexities of this medium, to explore how Virtual Reality is distinct, to find what is possible when creating content specifically for this new interface, what new forms of narrativity are made possible by its emergence. How will take on topics of social significance and involve the spectators in different aspects of reality (even taken from the past) and how these experiences add to our understanding of events and the issues surrounding them, rather than simply allowing us to be “in the moment”. Alison Landsberg describes how cinema, TV and museums work as experiential sites affecting people in a bodily way and making possible for the audience to acquire new memories which she refers to as prosthetic memories.[1] In VR this “affection” is replaced with embodiement- the spectator embodies the narratives character having the illusion that their surrogate representation is their own body- and act and have thoughts that correspond to this.[2] VR is dissolving the boundary between the human body and surrogate representations in immersive virtual reality and physical reality proving the affective dimension of this position which has given rise to a rhetoric of VR as an “empathy machine”.

How does the concept of “presence” – the sense of immersion within the events depicted by VR is addressed in the 360 videos and in real-time VR experiences? Will VR expand the cultural category of “liveness”? How do the “mimetic” and the abstract elements combine in order to present aspects of reality?

Called “passive VR”, the 360-degree videos are featuring live action and pre-rendered storytelling and allow the spectator to be an observer of events, to watch a movie without interaction (the viewer has no direct control over the action, the progression of the narrative is gaze-based). Will the 360 videos “passivity” change when software will allow us to create interactions inside 360-degree videos?[3]  And how will be the attention located and relocated?

But “true” VR “is not filmmaking”[4] or as Ramiro Lopez Dau, the director of Henry puts it: “it’s not really a movie anymore. It’s storytelling in a new medium”[5] focusing specifically on the player as an active agent in the space, who makes sense of the space and pieces together the information embedded in it. Here the spectators presence and actions work as an input to bring the work to life: viewers are being able to actually move around in 3-D virtual spaces, interacting with 3-D video of real people, and choosing the angle—the shot as it were—that they want to watch.

Will the already established documentary modes (Bill Nichols, De Bromhead) influence the ways these VR scenes (also the spatial design) are created? And how will the “rhetorical/aesthetic functions attributable to documentary practice”- Michael Renov’s four tendencies of the documentary form –will keep creating the non-fiction genre in VR?

Since interactivity constitute a key component of this medium how will the four modes of interactivity (Aston & Gaudenzi) will be translated into the world of the VR?

As the medium of VR creates an expanded sense of the space, the spectator has the sensation of being “inside” the data, not only observing it through flat screens or other portals creating new ways of interpretations and problematic concerning the space-presence-experience-narrative relationship. How will space become a medium of storytelling and how does the body? What is (is going to be) the language in a spacial navigation? How the design of the space and the tools provided to the player, structures the experience of the visitor, and create a narrative and how will extend the sensory expression? Can body interaction functioning as triggers for the production (sequencing, generating or modifying) images in real time?[6]        How do the possibilities of volumetric filmmaking compare to 360 filmmaking?(comparative analysis).

How computational photography affect non-fiction photography genre- storytelling in photographic virtual tours and how will characteristics from video game such as environmental storytelling, indexical storytelling, evocative narrative elements could be possible to find in such immersive works?

How will Lars Elleström’s, Media, Modalities and Modes: Material modality, Sensorial modality, Spatiotemporal modality, Semiotic modality will help to deconstruct, study and analyze the VR medium and find in-depth characteristics of the VR medium.

Given the technical and economic novelty of 360 films, in order to give a manageable description of them a sufficient amount of data should be collected. (empirical analysis)



[1] Alison Landsberg, “In the process that I am describing, the person does not simply apprehend a historical narrative but takes on a more personal, deeply felt memory of a past event through which he or she did not live. The resulting prosthetic memory has the ability to shape that person’s subjectivity and politics.”


[3] Klynt VR, is one of the first software programs that will allow us to create interactions inside 360-degree videos. Like this short sample: And more importantly, it allows editors start placing spatial sound in video.


[5]  Ramiro Lopez Dau, the director of Henry, says later in the same LA Times article: “What I’ve learned with ‘Henry’ is that it’s not really a movie anymore. It’s storytelling in a new medium, and we’re trying to figure out what to call it,” he said. “A movie is the closest name because it’s the most familiar. But if we keep adding layers of complexity, we’ll come up with a new one.”

[6] Hansen: “Indeed, what aesthetic experimentation with VR ultimately demonstrate is the capacity of new media art to accord the body new functionalities––including the extension of its capacity for self-intuition or spacing–– precisely by putting it into sensorimotor correlation with new environments, or more accurately, with unprecedented configuration of information. In this way, the body is transformed into a nondimensional, intensive site for a feedback loop with information, where, as we have seen, the output of the body and the output of information are locked into an ongoing recursive coupling. […] It is, accordingly, the body’s affective autopoietic dimension––its capacity for absolute spacing––that accounts for the neurocultural function of new media art. (194 – 195)”