"The first thing you need to know is that I am not a Virtual Reality (VR) enthusiast.... My dislike isn’t of VR per se, but stems rather from the messianic zeal with which big corporations, technologists, futurists, entrepreneurs, advertisers, venture capitalists, academics, journalists—pretty much everyone—have heralded its newest incarnation."
-The Emperor's New Headset: What's Wrong with VR
I contributed an essay on virtual reality to the inaugural issue of Adjacent, an online journal of emerging media from NYU's ITP.
My main critique of the (already flagging) enthusiasm for VR is that it considers 360-degree, 3D media an evolved version of 2D media. I don't think that's right. If I were building an evolutionary tree of media, I would trace film's descent from storytelling, while VR's progenitors are more experiential forms of expression such as music and dance.
In this essay, I argue that VR acts primarily on a limbic and subconscious level and is thus better suited to metaphor than to narrative. I offer practical approaches for moving beyond simulation and towards a deeper exploration of immersive media's unique potential. And I get in a jab or two.
Painting by Molly Lowe.
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