Who does Virtual Reality need?

It never ceases to fascinate me how new technologies almost always present themselves as a potential: their significance, we are told, lies not in what they do today, but rather in what they are capable of doing, and will undoubtedly do, at some point in the future. All these technologies require is effort on the part of the ‘creative class’. 3D printers, drones and virtual reality, to mention only three, have been waiting for their moment for years now. But the reality seems to forever linger in the shadow of its original promise.

Developing a healthy creative approach to technology means understanding the permanent awkward rift between technological ‘innovation’ and meaningful cultural expression. Both industry and government policy seem intensely focused on the first, yet it is the second that changes our lives.

Consider another promising technology: 3D cinema. Does Shakespeare need 3D cinema? No, he doesn’t. Is Shakespeare enhanced by 3D cinema? The 3D cinema evangelists would undoubtedly say: ‘oh yes! it enhances the suspension of disbelief’. But do Shakespeare’s plays really need greater suspension of disbelief? I doubt it. Their narratives and characters do very well as they are.

So does 3D cinema need Shakespeare? I’m going to say no. But I will suggest that theatre did need Shakespeare… in a similar way that the electric guitar needed Jimi Hendrix … and social networking needed Mark Zuckerberg.

The question I’d like to pose is: who is it that Virtual Reality needs? What is their angle, how do they see the world, how will they make us see the world differently?

How can Polygon Door nurture an approach to the creative exploration of technological mediums where the student helps the medium find its expression just as much as the medium helps the student find their personal expression?

It is fascinating watching trailers to events such as the VR Salon in Montreal (below), wondering: is the medium’s voice soon to be found?

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