October 21, 2012

Bolter and Grusin

What I get from the reading is that "reality" is shaped by medium. That is, what we perceive as reality changes when we choose what medium we receive information in. The danger of this is that we are less aware of what reality actually is. In the examples about the robot and endoscope, the viewer can only see what is on their camera. They might be missing something that is off-camera.

I don't understand the part about Shirley, where it says, "there is eventually a rupture. If the story goes on long enough, Shirley is certain to come upon a television, a movie screen, or even a desktop computer represented inside the virtual reality, an acknowledgement that media are among the objects that make up our world (216)." It seems like they are saying that virtual reality doesn't need media, but I don't see why that would be true if virtual reality is supposed to mimic reality. Why can't a virtual reality have virtual media?

It is like saying that if I am reading a work of fiction, it cannot reference another book or anything that has happened in reality. I would think that a virtual reality would still have to maintain characteristics of reality to feel real to the person experiencing it. People like reality television, and they just sit there watching it instead of living their own lives. There are even games where you basically just play to work. I think the same argument can be made for media inside a virtual reality.

Bolter and Grusin write that "by injecting media into every imaginable device, ubiquitous computing brings these devices to a kind of artificial life (218)." To relate this back to the Pine Point case, the creators could have just made a documentary or a textual website, but they chose not to. By creating an interactive website with multiple forms of media, they created a text that is "more real" because it lets the viewer choose their way of viewing it. We can look through pictures or watch video, listen to voice-overs or read the words. Even though there is a limited amount of information, the viewer can feel like it is all-encompassing because they "control" the little robot with the camera on it as it is wandering through Pine Point. It presents media within media, and I think that is part of what makes it so compelling. We are not just being force fed a story, we are actively choosing how we want to view it.


Michelle Macchio said...

I think when this reading talks about the rupture in virtual reality, it can be more easily understood by drawing an analogy with time travel. In time travel stories, if someone goes back in time and sees or communicates with their past self, a rupture is created—the person is placed in a position of meta-awareness that could change the course of history and make it impossible for the situation to occur. Similarly, when placed in the world of virtual reality, the visualization of technology creates meta-awareness that you are, in fact, in a virtual world and, therefore, challenges the significance of what it is you are observing. Think of it this way, if you were in a virtual reality, could you theoretically find another virtual reality mechanism within the one you are already in, placing you in a second level of virtual reality? (I associate this with the concept of the movie Inception) Such a possibility creates a rupture in the mechanism at work by constraining the intended purpose of consuming the user and ‘tricking’ their mind into believing it is real.

michelle reyes said...

I believe we agree on most things the same in regards to the reading. The question you brought up about why virtual reality cannot have virtual media. I think what it meant by that was the virtual reality is meant to mimic our world. So if they were to invent their own reality who would it be exposed or targeted to no one would be able to relate this to their lives. Without the process of virtual reality and its connection to media continually being input any device it is exactly for that purpose. So people can relate to the artificial life that was being devised for them.

Zach van Dijk said...

I feel that our conception of reality is static.
It in not the understanding of reality that is altered by the mediums we use, but rather, the degree in which we accept an artificial reality. That is to say, all virtual/constructed realities, in order to be validated as mirroring true reality, must contain features of what we understand the real to be. This is what I feel Bolter and Grusin were getting at on page 216, "If virtual reality is about stepping through the medium into unmediated reality, then why does the virtual world need computers?" (216). That is essentially asking if the presence of media in virtual reality creates a more believable sense of reality?
Regardless of the virtual medium, I feel that media (and other grounding factors) strengthens our understanding of what is meant to be real. Yes, the medium shapes reality, but ultimately the media included in the medium dictates the overall believability.

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