With the content and contextualization of new technologies shaping ever evolving perspectives of cyberspace philosophical questions continue to emerge as to what is real and what is not, from Plato’s Cave to this oxymoron called virtual reality. When foraging along the highways of electronic digial information, it becomes necessary to reframe and reconsider the inherent meanings and current uses of terms like virtuality, reality and actuality.
VR as RV is a new “critical virtual reality” (CVR) project intended to function as a metaphorical equivalent of CPR (cardiopulminary resuscitation) -a form of first aid for a dying body. In the context of a post-Cold War era, this work is an attempt to resuscitate a technological system that is still tied to outdated modes of an industrially based militarism. The theoretical
framework for VR as RV incorporates Gregory Bateson’s concepts of “an ecology of mind,” and “mind/environment” with references to a superstring theory which postulates a ten dimensional universe with two parallel realities of four and six dimensions. The critique inherent in this work is that recent hybrids of VR and online systems are creating hyper-theaters
of the absurd, high- tech forums that are, ironically, analogous to the function and practicality of the “self contained comforts” of an RV (a motor home or caravan) :”Your recreational vehicle has been designed and engineered to provide you with many self-contained comforts of home without having to be connected to outside sources…. if operated within recommended procedures, [it] should provide you with many miles of virtually trouble free travel”. Charting this inversion of map and territory, VR as RV also addresses the erosion and possible reclamation of oral traditions that are firmly rooted in a past and still clearly manifested in
the present. Alternative structures suggested by the multi-dimensional aspects of superstrings can also create links to indigenous cultures that may yield something beyond the sterility and predicability of a pervasive globally based high-tech culture.
VR as RV incorporates an immersive virtual reality installation that will be premiered at the Banff Centre for the Arts in August. An on-line component is planned for access on the World Wide Web during the ISEA94 Symposium in Helsinki.
- Peter d’Agostino is an artist who has been working in video and installation since 1971, and interactive hypermedia for over a decade. He is professor of communications in the Department of RadioTelevision-Film, and co-director of the Hyper Media Laboratory, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. D’Agostino’s work has been exhibited internationally in the form of installations, performances, telecommunications events, and broadcast productions.