01 August 2016
Hyper-Reality: Warping The Mind
These days it seems impossible to avoid the subject of virtual reality and augmented reality and it’s safe to say that they are taking the world by storm. With investors putting billions into virtual and augmented reality technologies, Digi-Capital predicts the value of VR to be $30 billion by 2020, and $120 billion for AR.
Image Source: Virtual Reality Society
So what’s the difference between virtual and augmented reality?
Everything that we perceive as real is simply a combination of sensory information and the processing of this information by our brains. If our brains are then tricked with information which is virtual, or in other words, computer generated and three dimensional, we will be immersed in a version of reality that does not exist but our brains would perceive as real. That’s VR.
AR on the other hand combines virtual reality with our physical surroundings, overlaying digital images to the real world, and causing users to be unable to distinguish between the two.
But have you thought about what lies beyond VR and AR?
A kaleidoscopic world which sees the merging of physical and virtual realities and blurs the boundary between the real and imaginary. In hyper-reality, “simulators seek to make all of reality coincide with their models of simulation” resulting in the breakdown of the physical world as we know it. Its intention is to carry VR and AR to the extreme, to the extent of reality becoming so perfect and schematic that it becomes more real than reality itself. The creation of a world where a “lot of what exists is neither objectively true nor subjectively imaginary.”
Image Source: Core 77
Keiichi Matsuda’s hyper-reality short film perfectly illustrates the blurring of the real and virtual worlds. The Kickstarter campaign funded film follows a female protagonist on her journey through a dystopian future city, filled with games, Google searches and pop-up adverts. As you watch, it quickly becomes apparent what an isolated life the protagonist leads, finding herself asking Google existential questions such as “Who am I” and “Where am I going?” while considering resetting her own identity.
Matsuda explains that the film is intended to be provocative, depicting a realm where technology will envelop every aspect of our lives. He says that hyper-reality attempts to explore the exciting but dangerous trajectory of technology controlling the way we understand the world.
Image Source: Core 77
However, the film and notion of hyper-reality almost begs the question of whether we are taking virtual and augmented creations too far.
What are the implications of such a dystopian reality?
It can be argued that the blurring of what is real and what is a simulation could cause us to find ourselves more involved with the hyperreal world than with the actual world, making us unsure of whether our experiences are real or imaginary. It may even trick us into wanting to obtain the unobtainable or to seek an ideal notion of existence. Technology saturation and bombardment of consumer advertising like Matsuda’s film is already present in our daily lives. But could the impact of immersing ourselves completely in such mind warping media potentially be a negative one?
Only time will tell.
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