© Copyright 2017 Reuben Kiblitsky, Ryerson University
Virtual Reality has become a new dominant medium that re shapes how consumers view everyday content such as movies, video games, environments and much more. The video produced, demonstrates the effects of virtual reality and the potential it has in the upcoming years. Since the rise of virtual reality, many technological advancements have been made, demonstrating various uses of VR other than entertainment. Virtual Reality challenges transitional mediums and how we are used to consuming content. As seen in the video, physical therapy treatments are already showing great results in studies which questions how virtual reality effects individuals when consuming the content given. To further understand the new perspective of virtual reality, we must reflect back to past scholars in relation to transitional mediums.
Project Link: https://youtu.be/6trnIVP97YU
The past decade has seen many mediums come and go, with the introduction of high definition videos, 3D-content, DVDs, portable viewing, to more recent years, virtual reality. Lev Manovich uses an example of Zeuxis, a well-known Greek painter from the fifth century B.C. “According to the story, Zeuxis painted grapes with such skill that birds began to fly down to eat from the painted vine”. Manovich states that this talent of reality can be a direct comparison to virtual reality even though the time frame between the two comparisons are decades apart. RealityEngine, a high-performance computer which was released in the twentieth century, shows real time special effects and video games for films. This software runs high end Virtual Reality environments which is known as “the latest achievement in the West’s struggle to outdo Zeuxis”. Manovich points out that, “in terms of the images it can generate, RealityEngine may not be superior to Zeuxis. Yet is can do other tricks unavailable to the Greek painter. For instance, it allows the viewer to move around virtual grapes, touch them, life them in the palm of one’s hand. And this ability of the viewer to interact with a representation may be as important in contributing to the overall reality effect as the image themselves. Which makes RealityEngine a formidable contender to Zeuxis”. This connection between the two can really showcase the effects of virtual reality. Even though the images may not “look” as realistic compared to Zeuxis, due to the interaction and perspective, it allows for a more realistic experience. Due to this reason alone, we can begin to understand why virtual reality is becoming a popular consumption method.
One of the main features of virtual reality is bringing a new perspective medium to traditional content. Marshall McLuhan’s theory of The Medium is the Message can greatly be seen with virtual reality (Manovich). The medium can give us different emotions, perspectives, and messages depending on which way it is transmitted. The same topics, images, and text can give a different message if viewed on the radio or television. Looking at traditional television, the viewer sees the images on the screen in their personal environment which of course varies between individuals. The option of turning off the content whenever desired creates distancing between the viewer and the medium. Even though virtual reality provides the option to take on or off the equipment, by being placed in the content within, distancing is then reduced. There are many reasons why distancing is reduced within virtual reality. First off, VR requires a fully immersive experience with the movement of our bodies, sight, ears all working simultaneously. By having such a bodied aware medium; nothing of this kind before, it creates new possibilities between the creators and the viewers. Rather than being a spectator to the content, we are now found within the content itself. This self-immersive experience is known as “physical media” (Manovich). In the video created, we can see how this “physical media” takes into place with Google’s new painting program. Users are put into an environment where they can create the content within virtual reality. While doing this, the user becomes more aware of their body as it is directly being used to give new perspectives when interacting within the content.
The reasoning behind doing a video essay is to demonstrate the visuals of virtual reality and what it offers. Since we are being exposed to visuals of past and present forms of mediums, we can accurately critic both simultaneously. When looking at John Berger’s theory within the project, we can further comprehend the points he is making. Our eyes are like lighthouses, but instead of the light going out, it is going in. Taking this approach to virtual reality, the lighthouse is widened due to the expansion of our perspective rather than starring at one point on a two dimensional print. With the reproduction and reprints of art and content, viewers are now able to experience the work in different environments. To see the Mona Lisa, we must go to a museum in Paris, which environment never changes as the picture is always in the same spot with the same surroundings. Now with re prints, we can view the Mona Lisa on our computer screens, books, televisions which alters our interpretation of the content due to the different settings around it.
By furthering our discussion with the work of previous scholar on the perception of content, we can now approach virtual reality in a new light. Virtual Reality counters John Berger’s idea of reproduction not being consistent anymore due to our surrounding changing. Because VR takes over our sight, perspective, hearing in an immersive environment, each consumer would experience the same work since the surrounding are taking place within the content in the virtual world. On the other hand, by allowing the consumer to be within the content, the self-aware bodied experience can differ depending on the user’s action, hence making each VR experience unique. There is no question that virtual reality is challenging the way we view content, with endless possibilities from entertainment, to physical treatment therapies Even though we are in the beginning years of the rise of virtual reality, it is always important to question how this new perspective of consumption will reshape content creators and consumers.
Berlin, Messe. “A woman uses a Samsung Gear VR headset at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2015” Photograph. CIO. September 16, 2015 http://www.cio.com/article/2983679/it-industry/is-virtual-reality-finally-ready-for-business-use.html
Biocca, Frank, and Mark R. Levy. Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality. Florence, Taylor and Francis, 2013.
Google. “Tilt Brush: Painting from a new perspective” YouTube, May 3 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TckqNdrdbgk
Manovich, Lev. The Language Of New Media. 1st ed. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002. Print.
Mashable. “What Is Virtual Reality & How Does It Work? | Mashable Explains” YouTube, April 15 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBNH8tzsfVM
mipodstuff. “Steve Jobs announcing the first iPhone in 2007” YouTube, October 8 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGoM_wVrwng&t
Qantas Airlines. “Qantas first-class passengers experience virtual reality, via Samsung’s Gear VR headset.” Photograph. Bloomberg. June 19, 2015 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-19/how-oculus-and-cardboard-are-going-to-rock-the-travel-industry
tw19751. “John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972)” YouTube, October 8 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4VX_9Kk&t
UNCGResearch. “RISE Chris Rhea, Virtual Reality for Physical Therapy” YouTube, January 14 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0omvHAOr_s
Valve. “Virtual Reality – SteamVR featuring the HTC Vive” YouTube, April 5 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYfNzhLXYGc&t
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