Spiders are unpopular. Wrongly so. For example, they keep insect populations at bay and contribute to biodiversity. My M.A. project gives a better understanding of the life of these fascinating animals and is addressed to a wide audience. By switching perspective, the world can be experienced through the senses of the spider. The Tiger Bromeliad Spider lives in the Central American rainforest. It perches on plants at night, waiting for prey. Due to its extraordinary ability to detect air movements it can sense the vibrations caused by passing insects, locate those insects and catch them with a single leap. The spider’s trichobothria, which are long, thin hairs, enable it to do this. They are so sensitive that just a few air molecules can set them in motion.
The immersive 360° virtual reality animation film created in this project includes sound and invites viewers to enter the world of the spider and experience it from the animal’s perspective. This sensual experience is complemented by explanatory, fact-based illustrations. In future, the film would be suitable for screening at exhibitions beyond the specific spider topic, covering biodiversity for example. It also provides a basis for scientific research into whether and how this change of perspective influences people’s attitude towards spiders.
The project provides the possibility for an almost seamless connection with fundamental research – as a basis for carrying out more in-depth research on the potential of VR for knowledge transfer and the creation of empathy through a change of perspective. Together with experts in perceptual psychology, the question can be tackled: How can a VR experience involving a change of perspective (incl. knowledge transfer and creation of empathy) be used to influence existing attitudes and potentially alter them? – Excerpt from the supporting statement of the Subject Area Knowledge Visualization
«My project makes it possible to take on the perspective of an unpopular animal – the Tiger Bromeliad Spider – through an immersive film. It can also serve as a research tool, for instance, to find out whether immersive forms of presentation can influence people’s attitudes towards this animal in a positive way.» – Barbara Schuler
«I would like to work in a self-employed capacity focusing on the visualisation and communication of scientific content.» – Barbara Schuler