Presence at the Interface (or How Do You Know I'm Not a Movie and When Does it Matter?)

Michael Naimark, Interval Research

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University Nov. 25, 1992


The driving premise of "virtual reality" is to make the human-machine interface indistinguishable from unmediated reality, to create a sense of place we sometimes call "presence." But two very different groups consider themselves experts in this area: the computer community and the motion picture community. Consider the difference between the virtual community of the internet and the raw visual impact of an IMAX film. Both groups have severely miscalibrated use of terms (such as "realness" and "interactivity").

This presentation will speculate on the implications as these two groups learn to collaborate. Several examples of personal research and art work will be shown, including interactive "moviemaps" and immersive projection environments.


Michael Naimark was instrumental in making the first interactive videodiscs for M.I.T., Atari, Siggraph, the Paris Metro, the National Geographic Society, Lucasfilm Learning, the Apple Multimedia Lab, and the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM). His specialty is field recording for interactive end-use. He has "moviemapped" Aspen from the street, Paris from the sidewalk, San Francisco from the air, and Karlsruhe, Germany, from the rail.

Naimark's artwork has been exhibited internationally, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Exploratorium, the New York Avant Garde Festival and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Center in Paris and the Triennale di Milano, and the Tokyo Art New Visions and the Kanagawa International Exhibition.

He has held faculty appointments at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, California Institute of the Arts, M.I.T., and the University of Michigan. He is also on the Editorial Board for PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments published by M.I.T. Press and has been a longtime member of the Society for Visual Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association.

Michael received a B.S. in Cybernetic Systems from the University of Michigan in 1974 and an M.S. in Visual Studies and Environmental Art from M.I.T. in 1979.


Titles and abstracts for all years are available by year and by speaker.

For more information about HCI at Stanford see

Overview Degrees Courses Research Faculty FAQ