Posted by Bettina Tizzy
I am becoming as fascinated by how technology affects us as I am by what we do with it. Lately, I've been wondering why we don't much celebrate our ability to fly in Virtual Worlds, even while it may be working its way into our subconscious.
My avatar in flight over Strawberry Holiday's "On Their Journeys" installation
Most of us take avatar flight for granted, but I suspect it has had an effect on my psyche as I don't recall having any dreams about flying in the past two years, which is also the length of time that has elapsed since I logged in to my first virtual world: Second Life®. I used to dream about flying... often.
Which led me to consider, "Is virtual flight (and virtual life, even) a substitute for lucid dreaming?" Norm Bearrentine explores how the brain constructs our reality, and how understanding that can affect the way we think of ourselves and who we are. "As people learn about lucid dreaming, an interesting fact about the brain will become known: it is a virtual reality generator," he says.
He goes on to explain, "The difference between these kinds of virtual reality and physical reality is that we can step away from the video game, movie, or book, and become aware of the technology that produced the experience. It is impossible, however, to step away from the brain, which is the technology producing our experience of “physical” reality. All our experience happens in the brain, and the only difference in the varieties of experience is the kind of technology that provides the brain with it’s material – books, TV, movies, video games, or none of the above."
Someone who would have undoubtedly explored virtual worlds were he alive today, Yves Klein created the photomontage Le Saut dans le Vide taken at Rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, in 1960, as "a symbol of the desire to overcome gravity and thus enter into the unlimited aspects of virtuality." It has been said that this was a manifestation of Klein's will to transcend limits. [Photo by Harry Shunk/Wikipedia]
And then there is this TED Talk featuring game designer David Perry, in which he shares a video created by a remarkable student, Michael Highland, who's words are etched indelibly on my mind: "... beyond the graphics, sound, game play and emotion, it is the power to break down reality that is so fascinating and addictive to me. I know that I am losing my grip. Part of me is just waiting to let go. I know though, that no matter how amazing video games may become, or how flat the real world may seem to us, that we must stay aware of what our games are teaching us and how they leave us feeling when we finally do unplug."
Will videogames become better than life?
Which leaves me wondering: Is it because we have overcome reality that we are not all that impressed with our ability to fly in the immersive environment of the virtual realm?
+ I can fly, but meh - Part II in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series
+ Oh, those intrepid gravity challengers - Part III in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series
+ Climbing walls, sky dancing (in HD!), and weightless sex/showers - Part IV in our Gravity in Virtual Worlds series
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Posted by Bettina Tizzy