The question of virtual reality (VR) and its application in real life are becoming more important because technology continues to advance, creating new ways of representing objects. Additionally, contemporary people spend a large portion of their time communicating and gathering information in a virtual world – the Internet. Thus, the question of philosophical concepts concerning VR and how technology can be applied arises. This paper examines VR technology and its use in filmmaking and offers an assessment of ideas on VR while exploring the topic of space.
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Is Space Real?
The primary question that should be answered before investigating the topic of VR is space and its perception. Many objects people see in their daily lives are undoubtedly real, for instance, an apple or a car that a person can touch and feel. However, some things humans cannot see while they are considered real as well. According to Thomas (2017), the discussions regarding space began in 1717 and continued to the present day. It is related to the topic of a particular environment, which cannot be felt by an individual, present the distinction between real and virtual.
Although the scientific approaches of physicists provided a better understanding of time and space, the question remains unresolved. Danaher (2017, para. 2) states that “we already live a considerable amount of our lives online”; thus, an understanding of what is real and what is not becoming more complex. Some objects can be created using software, for instance, a 3D model of a fruit. Moreover, a person can create a virtual representation of himself or herself and interact with virtual objects. It can be argued that further technological advancements will continue to transfer people’s lives in the virtual world.
Virtual Reality and Space
The creation of VR highlights a new perception of space because, through technology, people can be transmitted to a different environment. Brey (2014) developed a framework to enhance the understanding of reality and VR. The author argues that for most people, objects in VR cannot be perceived as real because they are an imitation of something from the actual environment that surrounds people.
Furthermore, such things do not have characteristics of a tangible item such as weight, location in space, chemical structure and others. However, it can be argued that a virtual chess game serves the same purpose as the real one. In addition to this idea, Moskovits (2016) researches the possibility of humanity living in virtual reality. The idea emerges because Brey (2014), Moskovits (2016), and Kuhn (2015) point out the difficulty of distinguishing real from virtual. Picture 1 presents a virtual reality continuum through which the perception of actual space and virtual environment can be explained.
Thus, the topic of distinguishing real from non-real is essential for understanding space and VR. Brey (2014, p. 42) states that the primary questions regarding space that philosophers aim to explore are “What is a physical object? Are there objects that are nonphysical?” Technology and its advancement offer a new perspective on the perception of space and objects by creating 3D models and VR.
Ropolyi (2015) highlights a different approach to understanding virtual reality. The author states that Aristotle’s dualistic system, which recognizes actual and potential beings, can be applied to understanding VR by adding the third aspect. Virtuality combines the two components because actual and potential inseparable in it.
Don Ihde’s Ideas
The question of technology and the interest of philosophers towards it is important because it highlights specific issues connected to with perception of the world through VR. According to Rossenberg and Verbeek (2015), postphenomenology is a field of philosophy that is concerned with understanding the implications of technology.
The interdisciplinary research can offer an exciting view of the human-technology components of the subject. Metzinger (2018, p. 1) argues that “conscious experience itself, “Bayesian” and social VR, amnestic re-embodiment, merging human-controlled avatars and virtual agents, virtual ego-dissolution, controlling the reality/virtuality continuum…” are among primary topics of interest that should be examined. These components present an understanding of the perception that people have of technology and themselves through the lens of these developments.
It can be argued that different technology plays a crucial role in people’s lives. Ihde et al. (2015) state that it is critical to understand the relationship between humans and technology and present an analysis of various types of human-technology interactions. Thus, the authors concluded that some technology is in the background, while other is being emptied, interacted with, or read. The embodiment is a crucial aspect because it describes in which ways humans utilize technology, creating a unity between the two. This can be presented by an example of a smartphone through which individuals communicate with others.
Virtual Reality for Filming
The primary aspect that concerns postphenomenology researchers is the influence that technological advancements have on choices that individuals make. This paper aims to specifically examine VR and its effects on filmmaking, which is presented below. Romanova et al. (2018) state that VR is rapidly developing to change ways in which people perceive feelings by artificial stimulation. Thus, the technology can evolve and present new concepts of telling a story to a viewer.
Art and Technology
It can be argued that together with new approaches to philosophy, a different perception of art is introduced by the 21st century’s technology. Wright (2014) states that due to the circumstances, augmented reality (AR) technology becomes more critical. The author defines AR as anything that can be used to real and virtual; thus, VR and AR have similar objectives of functioning. AR can be accessed by humans at any time, by merely looking at a smartphone screen or using the built-in camera to take photographs. This simplicity offers a new intimacy of the human-technology relationship because many individuals own a smartphone in the modern era.
Additionally, new art forms can be created by using AR and its tools. Wright (2015, offers an example of the 2011 exhibit Art Critic Face Matrix to illustrate the new path of development that the combination of technology and art present. Visitors could use their phones to view a mix of real space and virtual faces of critics in it. The question of illusion and VR in art is explored by many researchers. Fisher (2018, para. 1) states that “virtual reality allows for us to temporarily escape mundane routine and experience something a little out of the ordinary, even if it is potentially dangerous,” which is the primary appeal of VR technologies. The author describes VR as a realistic simulation of reality while arguing that it is an illusion.
The 19th-century playwright Artaud argues that illusion does not differ from reality because it allows people to immerse themselves in the drama displayed on the stage (Fisher 2018). The logic that Artaud uses implies that most forms of art balance on the verge of reality and illusion because they offer a representation of something that is not physically real. However, a viewer belief can mean that the presented object exists.
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It can be argued that for centuries people worked on creating technology that would serve as a valid substitution for reality. This is substantiated by Grimshaw (2014), who cites Greek and Roman theatres as the beginning of virtual representation. The objective is reflected in fiction books describing various inventions that affect a person’s senses and devices that can help enhance experiences. Another example of such development is Heilig, who created a simulation environment, Sensorama, which allowed viewers to see a movie, feel various smells, and hear noises of the surroundings (Fisher, 2018).
Therefore, it can be argued that humanity has been advancing towards creating a technology that would serve as a substitute for actual space and objects for centuries. This aspect provides an essential insight into the human-technology relationship.
Prior Approaches to Film Creation
Although VR technology offers a drastically different approach to the interaction between the plot, filmmakers, and viewers, people tried to blur the line between the virtual and real for decades. According to Watson (2018), a visual representation of stories has been a subject of constant development. For instance, the invention of 3D technology and its application in movie theatres allowed showing specific objects on the screen in three dimensions. Therefore, it can be argued that VR is another step in the strive of humanity to merge the virtual world with reality.
Virtual Reality Headset
The primary objective of using VR technology in filmmaking is to create an immersive experience, which would allow to show more details and to provide a better experience to the viewers. It can be hypothesized that within several years the VR will enable people to be characters in a movie; thus, interacting directly with the art piece. According to Danaher (2017, para. 3), “immersive virtual reality (VR) headsets such as the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear, and Sony Playstation VR, we can now participate in highly realistic and engaging virtual activities.” It is possible that in several years VR headsets will be as popular and widely used and smartphones are in the current time.
The technology can be used not only for entertainment but also for the explanation of significant problems. Richardson (2018, para. 1) states that considering the current path of advancement within the VR industry, “storytelling will go way beyond the confines of traditional storytelling.” Thus, VR technology in filmmaking allows directors to deliver content in new ways and offer a better experience to viewers. According to Poulou (2018), some filmmakers already took advantage of VR to showcase a documentary of global issues. In these movies, viewers can witness climate and its effects on glaciers. The experience should create a better understanding of the problems because of the immersion that people have during the screening.
Current approaches to VR execution have several issues, obstructing it from becoming applied in various industries. Richardson (2018, para. 3) states that “clunky headsets, having to set up movement tracking devices and logging on to a computer are some of the problems associated with current VR.” However, it can be hypothesized that these issues will be resolved in the upcoming years. It is substantiated by Atkins (2017) because the author points out that individuals can now use VR technology that was previously available only to large industrial companies.
Thus the question of VR and space should be further investigated. According to Dooley (2018), the thoughtful exploration of VR will continue because only recently the technology became accessible to the masses. The fact that people can purchase easy to use and inexpensive devices will present new challenges to the research of human-technology interactions.
Additionally, the aspect of accessibility presents new approaches to film production that can be used by directors to offer a more immersive experience for its viewers. A particular component that should be considered in the development of 360-degree cameras (Dooley, 2018). These tools allow filmmakers to capture the environment omnidirectionally, as opposed to the traditional cameras that film objects in a rectangular frame.
While most works created with the new 360-degree technology were aimed at showcasing the new approach to movie presentation, the recent interest of large companies showcases a possible popularization of the techniques. Dooley (2018, p. 96) argues that VR and 360-degree videos will present a new era of “Cinematic Virtual reality.” The implication means that the industry of filmmaking can witness an essential transformation of approaches to storytelling. An important question from this perspective is the further development of VR and its possible integration of it into the daily lives of people.
Although the experience was not successful, another implication of VR usage in entertainment is presented by the following example. Buckmaster (2017) opposes Dooley’s (2018) optimistic views on VR application by citing the example of the Adelaide film festival. The event aimed at revolutionizing the approach to filmmaking by introducing an interactive carnival experience at its opening party. The endeavour failed as the technology could not process a large number of people connected to it.
Overall, the question of space and reality remains to be unresolved in the current time. VR technology offers a new understanding of the issue because it introduces a new approach to the two components. The implication for further research is in exploring the difference in perception that people have with VR and other similar technologies when compared to reality. It is important for filmmaking, in which VR present a new approach to the viewer experience.
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