VR/AR Fundamentals

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VR/AR Fundamentals

An Online Presentation Series on Mediated Presence

Since 1980 when the term “telepresence” was first coined, and even earlier, scholars, artists, and technologists, from Sherry Turkle to Laurie Anderson to Jaron Lanier have been exploring the idea of “presence,” the feeling that you’re “really there” in a mediated digital environment. Today’s excitement around VR, AR, and the metaverse is deeply rooted in mediated presence. (Mark Zuckerberg calls it the “defining quality” of the metaverse.) It’s related and complementary to gaming & avatars, narrative & storytelling, design & usability, and crypto & NFTs, but it’s different. 

Join Michael Naimark, virtual reality and new media artist, inventor, scholar, and consultant, in this six-hour intensive course designed to provide a holistic framework for understanding VR, AR, immersive environments, and mediated presence.  You will be walked through what it takes to, via media, fool our eyes and ears, fool our other senses, tap our input (and intentions), and be immersed in live events with other people. 

Originally developed for the Interactive Media Arts curriculum at NYU Shanghai in 2017, and iterated over 4 years with scores of undergraduate students from around the globe, Michael Naimark has adapted this course for general audiences. With over 300 slides, this highly audiovisual presentation is playfully participatory, with lots of examples from art, research, industry, and history.

Course Logistics

Saturday & Sunday, May 14 & 15

10AM- 1PM on both days

$400 for a 6hr interactive course over two days (Limited to 20 students)

$250 for live audit access—join livestream only

We also offer Diversity Scholarships, find out more and apply here

Experience level: All levels – Beginner to Advanced

Course Requirements:
• Computer with an internet connection
• All course materials will be provided for students.

Course Goals

  1. You will develop an “under the hood” understanding of the basic principles of mediated presence as they apply to VR, AR, immersive environments, and the metaverse.
  1. You will learn the vocabulary to be able to share your ideas and ask the right questions when developing both art projects and corporate products.
  1. You will have your own “inner grounding” for both creative making and critical reviewing.

Some things you will learn

  • How Hollywood and Silicon Valley approach immersion differently.
  • When haptic “suggestion” is good enough.
  • Why some colors are poorly represented on displays.
  • When the difference between hologram and “hologram” matters.
  • Why “cartoonishness” is a divisive flashpoint for many.
  • When interactivity can be faked.
  • When less than 360 degree imagery may be good enough.
  • What’s state of the art for virtual smell and virtual taste.
  • What’s state of the art for mind as input and mind as output.
  • Why the tech giants are “racing to the ground (view)” in 3D Earth models.


3DOF, 4D, 6DOF, accommodation, air vortex rings, ambisonic, autostereo, binaural, camera zapping, CAVEs, Cinerama, Circle-Vision, convergence, conviviality, cycloramas, depth maps, directed attention, disparity, edge computing, EEG, effectors, electromyography, eye contact, fMRI, focus, foveation, fremitus, fusion, gaze correction, HDR, heart rate variability, HRTF, Imax, IMU, IPD, jutter, Kinoautomat, light fields, micro-encapsulation, MoCap, monoscopic, motion interpolation, motion platforms, MR, multiscopic, neural radiance fields, optical imaging, orthoscopic, ortho-stereo, panoramas, parallax, Pepper’s Ghost, phosphenes, photogrammetry, point clouds, Polyvision, redirected walking, remote viewing, resolution, rubber hand illusion, sensors, Showscan, SLAM, spatiality, stereophonic, stereoscopic, synaesthesia, ultrahaptics, vection, vestibular, virtual production, volumetric video, waveguides, XR, and more.

Corporations & organizations

Pricing for private courses and group purchases are available upon request. We are happy to offer hands-on course facilitation for teams & groups, as well as accommodate requests for weekday or other international timezone considerations. Please reach out to [email protected] for rates, schedules and more.

“After this course, I have a clearer idea of how such technology works and what I want to achieve through them.” —Jun Z., Spring 2021

“What I’ve learned from the classes has prepared me to understand the latest innovation better and faster.” —Winny W., Fall 2020

“It opened the VR/AR world for me and helped me build a holistic view of the current immersive experience industry.” —Daisy C., Spring 2020

“It’s such a creative, bright, and foreseeing class to explore even during the pandemic!” —Leah D., Spring 2020

“A great blend of technical knowledge and artistic view, a well-structured introduction to an exciting field.” Tim W., Fall 2019

“It was an eye-opening and educational experience. You get to not only see what VR/AR could achieve, but also start to understand how it is done. Great class!” —Jack Z., Fall 2017


Michael Naimark works in virtual reality and new media art as artist, inventor, scholar, and consultant. His work has been seen in nearly 400 art exhibitions, film festivals, and presentations around the world; and he’s listed as lead inventor on 16 issued patents relating to cameras, display, haptics, and live. Michael has taught 20 different classes at 9 universities over 4 decades including, since 2009, at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, USC Cinema’s Interactive Media and Games Division, and the MIT Media Lab. Michael has consulted and directed projects with support from Apple, Disney, Microsoft, Atari, Panavision, Lucasfilm, and Paul Allen’s Interval Research; and from National Geographic, UNESCO, the Rockefeller Foundation, NY MoMA, the Banff Centre, Ars Electronica, and the Paris Metro.

Since 2017, Michael has served as visiting faculty in Interactive Media Arts at NYU Shanghai, where he developed a VR/AR curriculum and directed research into live, online, tele-immersion, (which included a cheap simple hack for improving online classwork). Prior to that, in 2015-16, he was Google’s first-ever VR resident artist. Michael’s early work in projection mapping, including an art installation at SFMOMA in 1984, is listed “#3” in Wikipedia (after Disney and George Harrison). He’s a founding editorial board member of Presence Journal (MIT Press) and a longtime advisor-at-large to ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax’s Global Jukebox Project. His artwork is in the permanent collections of the Exploratorium, the Centre for Arts and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, and the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York.