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Critical worlding - Rachel Falconer lecture

What do you think of the statement that XR/ VR builds worlds through our experience of them

This statement seems to suggest that it is only by being experienced that XR/VR worlds come to exist, and possibly that we might have an ability to shape them through our behavior within them. They don’t exist in absolute, but come to life when they are used.

The works of VR and XR are very wide and it is difficult to answer this categorically, we might invoke some examples to open possible answers.

If we compare it to the physical world, would we say about an unused building that it is built through our experience of it? One way of seeing it would be to say that the physical world should be built through our experience. It might benefit from the use of VR, to place the human experience at the center of the design process. From another angle, the physical world is also shaped by our use, by the behaviors of its inhabitants, by the situations that it creates. Does physical existence mean an absolute reality? A constructed VR world could be fed without us ever using it, but it could be running somewhere, consume energy, have its own characteristics, even be fed by data and evolve, be generative. It can also influence what we consider as reality, as any fiction can shape us. Some works that remained on paper, also called paper architectures, have an existence and in some ways might have had a greater impact than the majority of those who were built.

We might question the fact that XR that is built as a layer on our physical environment and Virtual Reality that is experienced by abstracting ourselves from it.

Mixed Realities requires the use of glasses, overlaying graphical information on top of what we would see. This can be a way of enhancing our vision with information that we don’t usually have access to. The fact that we are not able to perceive it, within the limitations of our bodies, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

  • How do you create a sense of presence within a world? Is it necessitated by the fidelity of visual realism – or is it more about a feeling of “being there”

Seeking high realism would have its own limits, any kind of flaw will be breaking the experience, and realism is very consuming, making it difficult to achieve. It might be that the required realism is not visual but relates to the technology, a way of making the prolongation of our senses seamless (in terms of movements, tracking).

Even though some of the exemples presented in the lecture tackled other features than the visual one, such as exoskeletons to have the feeling of being a creature, VR and XR are generally focused mostly on the visual sense, due to the nature of the medium, that extends vision.

Could it be that what gives the feeling of being there, along with the prerequisite of a seamless technology, is for it to be the most total work. Even if it is not photorealistic, a high level of detail probably is required, and combining as much perception as possible.

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