1st Edition

The Art of Spatial Illusion Immersive Encounters between People, Media, and Place

By Richard Koeck Copyright 2025
    306 Pages 102 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    306 Pages 102 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Contemporary art, entertainment and architecture cultures offer a growing amount of digitally mediated spatial experiences, situated either in the metaverse (e.g VR) or location-based in physical realms (e.g. AR), increasingly powered by generative systems (e.g. AI). Are such spatially “immersive experiences” a new phenomenon and dependent on digital innovation?

    The Art of Spatial Illusion: Immersive Encounters between People, Media, and Place is an insightful exploration of the evolving relationship between humans, media, and spatial environments, tracing their progression from the Renaissance, via Modernity and Postmodernity, to today’s digital age. The author offers a compelling reading and re-evaluation of architectural history and media theory, drawing connections between historical practices, technological innovations, and contemporary immersive experiences.

    Inspired by scholars such as Walter Benjamin and Jean Baudrillard, the book discusses how technological advancements have transformed our situatedness in “image-spaces”, highlighting the shift from material authenticity to digital reproductions. The book is structured into four parts — The Surface, The Stage, The Interface, and The Hybrid — each exploring different aspects of spatial illusions and their implications. It offers a critical perspective on the creation of architectural, immersive environments, examining the motivations behind them and their broader cultural and political contexts.

    Richly illustrated and deeply researched, The Art of Spatial Illusion is an essential reading for anyone interested in architecture and art as well as media archaeology, history, and theory. Seeing new, thought-provoking architectural propositions emerging on our horizon, the author provides a comprehensive understanding of how immersive experiences shape our perception of reality.

    PART 1: THE SURFACE

    1. 16/17th c. Theaters of the World: Curiosity Cabinets & Whispering Chambers

    2. 18th c. Panoramic Space: Barker and the Re-Representation of Power

    3. 19th c. Panoramic Precision: The Colosseum of Hornor and Parris

    PART 2: THE STAGE

    4. Arrival in the Age of Moving Spectacles

    5. Paris 1900: Spatial Illusions and Immersive Experiences

    6. Early Cinema: Producing Moving Image Simulations   

    PART 3: THE INTERFACE

    7. Pre-Modern: Spaces of Purpose, Image and Performace

    8. Modern: Immersed in Abstract Spaces, Signs and Systems

    9. Post-Modern: Sign, Screens and Pixels

    CONCLUSION: THE HYBRID

    10. Hybridized Realities: The Rise of Screen Corporeality

    11. Concluding Remarks

    Biography

    Richard Koeck is a Professor and Chair in Architecture and the Visual Arts in the School of Architecture at the University of Liverpool. He is also Director of CAVA | Centre for Architecture and the Visual Arts and founding director of the film/media company CineTecture in the UK. He is author of Cine-Scapes (2013) and co-/editor of several books on film and architecture. His cross-disciplinary R&D innovation and UKRI expertise is situated at the intersection of space, media, and culture with a particular interest in digital/immersive spaces. He led and collaborated on large projects in the architecture, creative arts, and entertainment sectors in the UK, China and Singapore.