Digital Media- Virtually real – really virtual

In this weeks lecture we looked at the idea of virtual and reality and how the difference between the two can sometimes become blurred and unsure. The virtual world has been increasing over time and will continue to increase as new technologies are created. But what is a virtual world? What is virtual depends on when you were born and depending on what we have been brought up on. Different ages groups would have a different idea to the term ‘virtual world’. I looked on Techopeadia to define virtual world.

‘A virtual world is a computer-based online community environment that is designed and shared by individuals so that they can interact in a custom-built, simulated world. Users interact with each other in this simulated world using text-based, two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphical models called avatars.’

Today’s virtual worlds are wide ranging all with different purposes, some are built for entertainment, social, educational, training and various other purposes.

In our current digital climate, we are creating different realities all the time, involving these virtual worlds; the technology used for some is so advanced that these virtual worlds almost become reality as they are so believable. This leads to the idea of how do we know if something is real? We respond to what our senses say, even when they are wrong. An example of this is Trompe-l’œil, this is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture, this trickery of the eye makes us believe the image is ‘real’ and 3D.

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Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1874

This idea of trickery and deception links a lot to the photographic practise; many images are manipulated or edited to give viewers a certain reading of them. Images can also be created that use illusions and trickery, an example of that is the work of photographer Liu Bolin; Bolin has become well known for painting his entire body to match the scenery behind, so when he is photographed it can be near-impossible to spot him. This work uses illusion to trick the viewer into believing it is just a normal scene, it is only after a minute you realise and see the painted man. The work is very interesting and looks at deception in a create way. For this module we have to create three set of images based on the themes of work, rest and play, that also link to the digital world and some of the ideas we look at in lectures. The idea of trickery is very interesting and it is something I could look into exploring for my image sets.

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The invisible man

Immersive environments is another area of the virtual world that links to the idea of trickery; Immersion into virtual reality is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment. Some people are aware we are in these immersive environments, where as other believe they are actually there in this virtual world. CAVE UT, and Kinect are examples of new, interactive, immersion technologies.

In reality we also have immersive environments, a club could be seen as an immersive environment/experience; at night you are immersed into this crazy atmosphere and the surreal experience, however if you walked through a club in the day time there would not be that atmosphere just the remains of the night before. I find this kind of immersive environment interesting, how it changes completely depending on the time of day; for my image sets I could look into clubs and their immersive experience for the ‘play’ theme of the 3 image sets.

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