October 22, 2012

Remembering Reality in Constructing a New Medium

Bolter and Grusin's article "Ubiquitous Computing," discusses various breakthroughs in technology that have allowed humans to place themselves within a virtual reality. In discussing these technologies, several claims are made that can be linked to writing and its symbolic nature as discussed by several past theorists. This statement pulled from the article shows how virtual reality becomes a "natural" world which one operates within, "The interface of a telepresence system is highly mediated...in the sense that it should transmit a view to the human operator and allow the operator to interact 'naturally' with what she sees" (216). This idea of acting "naturally" within the system shows that virtual reality creates a virtual space and then attempts to bring the viewer into its world, and make the reader exist within the world "naturally". However, this is still not the natural world, so in operating within the system in an artificial "natural", virtual reality separates itself from reality; it creates its own reality.

This idea can be linked to other theorists in several ways. The most beneficial I believe is to relate this virtual reality with Longinus' "sublime". In Longinus' "On the Sublime" he discusses this idea of first having sublime in the mind, through constantly impregnating great thought into one's brain. This is reality. This is the same "natural" that Locke discusses when he claims the origin of the word is the idea, and through the idea we select words to represent our meaning. Virtual reality, as discussed by Bolter and Grusin, is similar to when writers try and create the sublime or when speakers try to pick a word to best represent an idea. Intricate to all these attempts to re-create reality is creating a separate space, a medium, for the writer and reader to exist in.

The 3D architectural walk-through Bolter and Grusin discuss is doing its best to re-create reality, but it is also fairly obvious that it isn't reality. Because of this, the viewer tries to place themselves within this new reality and link it back to the actual reality which they exist in when needed. This can be linked to Locke's theory as well. When speakers create a metaphor or begin to debate, they often find themselves arguing a point that is too far tangled in the virtual reality of symbols and word. If they stepped back and re-grounded themselves in reality and the basic idea they started with, they would likely have more clarity and be more effective. Linking this to Longinus, if writers did not become so focused on the systematic art and re-grounded themselves in the origin of the sublime, great thought in one's brain, they would be able to use the systematic art more effectively to create the sublime which best represents the original sublime in their mind.

Locke, Longinus, and Bolter and Grussin all discuss this idea of the medium, this virtual reality, as a separate world from reality. However, all of these theories seem to suggest that the virtual reality ( or writing, or speaking) is most effective when the user remembers the reality (or sublime, or idea) when shaping the new medium.

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