Week Five—Reality: Actual, Potential and Virtual

Word ‘what is real’

Reality is a word that could extend to a number of definitions. Virtual reality can be defined as computer-stimulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real and imaginary worlds

Media has allowed us to create a virtual reality that separates us from actual reality. Technology has enabled us to do so, and results in our perceptions and reality being augmented and recreated. This is evident in online gaming (eg sims, world of warcraft) where you create virtual characters where your actual self can be completely independent from the virtual ‘you’.

A dangerous aspect of this is the failure to distinguish between virtual realities and the truth in actual reality. Credibility and accuracy could be lost in virtual space, evident in cyber bulling and ‘fakes’ on the internet. Virtual reality has the ability to bring an alternate world/reality into our minds and bodies. The inability to distinguish what is reality and virtual  is evident in accounts of gamers who play shooting games and then go on to carry out actions from the games into actual reality. This is one extreme but real danger of the power that virtual reality can have on the mind.

On the bright side, virtual reality has the power to brighten our lives. Enhanced digital sound, bright lights, cinemas where the chairs move, fog machines. These are all things to richen experiences and to enhance our senses by creating, a virtual world.

‘Augmented reality’ is ‘a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input’ (Wikipedia, 2012).

An amazing example is the the ‘resurrection’ of dead singer Tupac, at the recent US Coachella music festival. A life-sized hologram image of Tupac was created and showcased on stage –  based on the latest in CGI technology, created by Hollywood effects house Digital Domain. For the thousands of people at the concert, this created a virtual reality in the fact that Tupac who to everyone was dead – was now dancing and singing on stage as a result of incredible technology. People’s reality had become confused. Many people on twitter commented that ‘I can see it, but i cant believe it’ or ‘Felt incredibly sad and happy at the same time’, and ‘IS THIS REAL?!’, This is a result of their reality becoming augmented in a way that had shifted their realities of what was real or not.

Shortly after, the success of the hologram sparked talk of ‘Entire festivals built around dead artists’. This is just an example of how technology has the ability to create virtual realities beyond any of our expectations. We could perhaps one day, see holograms popping out of televisions.

“Welcome back Tupac: How virtual reality brought singer back from the grave”


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