In the 1950's it occurred to cinematographer
Morton Heilig that all the sensory splendor of life could be
simulated with "reality machines." He proposed that an artist's
expressive powers would be enhanced by a scientific understanding
of the senses and perception. His premise was simple but striking
for its time: if an artist controlled the multi-sensory stimulation
of the audience, he could provide them with the illusion and
sensation of first-person experience, of actually "being there."
Inspired by short-lived curiosities such as Cinerama
and 3D movies, it occurred to Heilig that a logical extension
of cinema would be to immerse the audience in a fabricated world
that engaged all the senses. He believed that by expanding cinema
to involve not only sight and sound, but also taste, touch,
and smell, the traditional fourth wall of film and theater would
dissolve, transporting the audience into a habitable, virtual
world. He called this cinema of the future "experience theater,"
constructing a quirky, nickelodeon-style arcade machine in 1962
he aptly dubbed Sensorama, that catapulted viewers into multi-sensory
excursions through the streets of Brooklyn, as well as other
adventures in surrogate travel.