Virtual Reality

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Chris Grayson in Augmented Reality Overview discusses how augmented reality is interwoven with technology, allowing for the integration of the virtual and the real. He argues the potential technology has to improve our work environments. The key aspect of augmented reality is that it is a more a mediation of reality as opposed to virtual reality which replaces the real world. For example, a conference on skype can be taken to be augmented reality as it is in real time, but people aren’t physically in the same place for the meeting.

In understanding the readings for the week, many issues arise some with positive impact and others with danger signs. Just as much as augmented reality and mediation has the potential to benefit us, it can also be dangerous. In Slavoj Zizek’s Perverts Guide to Cinema, he makes this statement:

“Our fundamental delusion today is not to believe in what is only a fiction, to take fictions too seriously. It’s, on the contrary, not to take fictions seriously enough. You think its just a game? Its reality. It’s more real than it appears to you. For example, people who play video games, they adopt a persona of a sadist, rapist, whatever. The idea is, in reality I’m a weak person, so in order to supplement my real life weakness, I adopt the false image of a strong, sexually promiscuous person, and  so on and so on. So this would be the naive reading… But what if we read it in the opposite way? That this strong, brutal rapist, whatever, identity is my true self. In the sense that this is the psychic truth of myself and that in real life, because of social constrains and so on, I’m not able to enact it. So that, precisely because I think it’s only a game, it’s only a persona, a self-image I adopt in virtual space, I can be there much more truthful. I can enact an identity which is much closer to my true self. “

Zizek raises a very interesting point; the mediation of reality doesn’t change the person, but it often puts them in a position where they do things wouldn’t ordinarily do. And this can be seen a wide range of augmented realities; from the teenager talking on MSN to their crush who they wouldn’t dare approach at school, to Zizek’s example of a brutal rapist using technology to behave in a socially unacceptable manner. Murphie says this idea is “in any given moment of individuation there is an excess over the actual expressions of this individuation. This excess – the real network from which real potentials arise – is the virtual”. Individuation and the idea of true-self comes out of these augmented and virtual realities but to a certain extent confuses things.

The potential that Chris Grayson describes in augmented reality is exciting, and will no doubt be further developed as technology advances. However, the idea of individuation and the dangers that lie behind giving people too much freedom and taking away social values in mediated realities is questionable.

This has some relation to the memory topic we looked at last week, and is potentially something to pursue for the research assignment – the role mediated realities play in the externalisation of memory.

References:

Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo

Murphie, Andrew (2004) ‘The World’s Clock: The Network Society and Experimental ecologies’, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 11, Spring

 

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