Demonised: Bewitched and Possessed

Helen Jackson (Creator), Andrew Sneddon (Creator), Victoria McCollum (Creator)

Research output: Non-textual formDevice/Product

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Demonised: Bewitched and Possessed, is a practice-as- research experiment of narrative that operates at the intersection of history, technology and interpretation, to assemble a virtual reality performance of the trial of the Islandmagee Witches in Co. Antrim in 1711.
The history focuses on a young woman Mary Dunbar, the accuser, and her claims that she was bewitched. The defendants in this case, the ‘witches’, were 12 local individuals whom Mary Dunbar identified as causing her dramatic symptoms of demonic possession, many of whom would be considered to exist on the margins of society at that time (those visibly different and/or physical impaired and/or those who did not conform to accepted societal norms).
Seeking to intervene in accepted narrative tropes associated with witches and witchcraft, the objective experience of the key narrative threads chronicling the associated stories and histories of the trial of the Islandmagee Witches, is to prompt a virtual reality performance of narrative that engages with themes of social marginalisation and isolation, individual persecution, and wider concepts of being ‘the other’.
Designing for an aesthetic experience of serendipity and curiosity, the Demonised virtual reality experience draws out performances of oppression, marginalisation and isolation, and sets these against experiences of supernatural power that enable users to sense magical or other-worldly performances.
In doing so, the project is thus an attempt to leverage the potential of those very criticisms of immersive reality simulators (they create and promote uncomfortable and unsettling physical and emotional sensations of disconnection, disorientation, and isolation) to create new and innovative approaches to virtual reality interpretive methodologies that are underscored with the objective of sensual narration.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished online - 14 Jan 2023


  • virtual reality (VR)
  • storytelling
  • Heritage
  • Narrative discourse
  • embodied performance
  • horror
  • demonised
  • ulster
  • university
  • northern
  • ireland
  • experience
  • witch
  • possession


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