Week 3’s review content included:

  • The Matrix (1999)
  • Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion (Chapter 5: Virtual Art — Digital! The Natural Interface) (Oliver Grau, 2003)
  • Voices of VR Podcast #569: Merleau-Ponty’s ‘Phenomenology of Perception’ & Embodied Metaphors (August 18, 2017)

The Matrix (1999)

“What is real. How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” (The Matrix, 1999)

There is a strong use of virtual reality present within the film with the main concept being that reality is altered to hide the desert of the real world; fallen into decay and everyone is living within a simulated world. This is due to the destruction of the world taking place in the 20th century which coincided with the birth of AI and led to machinery taking over.

One quote resonated with me such as that “as long as the matrix exists, the human world will never be free”. The Matrix, refers to the simulation in which the people are present within. This quote insinuates the idea of virtual reality being a method of entrapment as opposed to allowing users to be free and limitless.

Another interesting point taken from the movie is a quote of “as long as the matrix exists, the human world will never be free “It has the same basic rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent, others can be broken”. This implies that even simulated reality must follow the same constraints and rules present within the world we know and once again, opposes the theory of virtual reality being a freeing experience.

Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion

This extract explores the use of virtual reality within the art world.. Primarily the creation from Char Davies of “Osmose”, the VR environmental experience which we explored in class. In addition to this, it explores the advantages and disadvantages of developing for this medium such as the creative freedom in a different format and the drawbacks of motion sickness.

Voices of VR Podcast #569: Merleau-Ponty’s ‘Phenomenology of Perception’ & Embodied Metaphors

This instalment within the Voices of VR podcast series features an interview with Kai Riemer and his work with virtual reality. The main topic discussed is the “Phenomenology of Perception” book published by French philosopher Maurice Merlau-ponty in 1945 and links the concepts proposed to other relevant material.

For example, the overarching narrative to Merlau-Ponty’s theory surrounds the idea of the body’s role in perception. Such as, there can be no hard defined separation between the actions and intelligent conduct of a person. This is most present within habits as the body will adapt to the intended immediate meaning and thus associate it with a form of embodied consciousness.

In addition, Reimer relates the theory to George Lakoff’s “Women, Fire and Dangerous Things” which provides the concept that our general understanding and interpretation of the world derives from how we experience our surroundings through use of our bodies.

This links to the Cartesian Duality theory that was covered the previous week within the “Rethinking VR: Key Concepts and Concerns, In Hybrid Reality: Art, Technology and the Human Factor” with Char Davies.

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