Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Virtual Reality and Text

The reading for this week focused on different aspects of virtual reality. Chapter 7 specifically focuses on text in multimedia, internet, and the redefinition of the self. Most of virtual reality consists of graphics and a very limited amount of text. According to Bolter, "this new technology of representation is playing a role in the redefinition of self: It reenforces other popular and elite pressures to replace the autonomous ego as a cultural ideal." Moreover, the computer disrupts and destabilizes linear text, which has also been a feature of art throughout the 20th century (Bolter). Bolter explains that the media are means of representation and self-presentation. Thus, they call for a redefinition of the self.
With electronic technology there are two mediums of presentation and representation, namely, writing and visualization. While text in a book is stable and has one voice, electronic writing is unstable and polyvocal. More than one person can comment on electronic writing and make changes as often as he or she would like, Wikipedia is a prime example of this. Virtual reality, uses illusion to convince the viewer that he or she is occupying the same visual space as the objects in view (Bolter). However, virtual reality gives the viewer control of his or her own spatial perspective. VR gives the viewer more power in that the viewer becomes the director, the viewer can choose which direction he or she wants to explore the virtual space. When one goes to watch a movie, you watch the movie from the perspective it was filmed. With virtual reality, the viewer has the ability to pick the direction and perspective to examine the virtual space with. This enables the viewer to learn about different perspectives.
Essentially, one is experiencing the world as others do. The virtual self denies its own identity, and its separateness from others and the world. People learn through identification and empathy.

Virtual reality has the ability to provide people with different perspectives, and learn through identification and empathy. People are active participants of what is going on in the virtual space, and they can choose whichever direction they want to go in. Virtual reality, can be a powerful learning tool, if used in the right way. Hypothetically speaking if medical students used virtual reality to practice their surgeries and procedures on, they would be able to experience the consequences of their actions, without actually harming someone if something did go wrong.

The other two chapters analyzed virtual reality in different ways. Chapter 5 mentioned three dimensional representation, motion and sound, and explained how virtual reality displays use these elements to enhance the presentation of virtual space. Additionally, this chapter explained some of the concerns with virtual reality, including extreme human behavior, lack of accountability, and the question of escaping our environment. Chapter 6 describes virtual reality as the ultimate in intrapersonal communication, and thus capable of further driving Western humanity further inward. The virtual scene allows a person to be on the inside looking around, rather than being on the outside looking in. With virtual reality, the person must decide to look one way or another, and his or her actions determine the potential and subsequent paths ot follow. One concern mentioned is that people begin to think that the drama in virtual reality is drama that resembles life. The distinction between fantasy and reality becomes blurred as participants engage in virtual reality.

1 comment:

  1. When you think about it, framing is ubiquitous, whether it's the rectangular page or piece of paper, or book cover, or the window or doorway, or the stage, or any of a myriad of different screens that we use. VR breaks free of that constraint, and that represents a major shift from the fixed point of view of the voyeur to the full immersion of the participant.