|Chapter title||Genealogies of Immersive Media and Virtual Reality (VR) as Practical Aesthetic Machines|
When virtual reality ‘first’ appeared on the scene in the 1990s, its philosophical, and even metaphysical, potentials were not lost on several authors whether they perceived them in largely dystopian terms (see Kroker 1993) or naively affirmative ones (see Rheingold 1991). Perhaps the author who most intimately connected virtual reality and philosophy was Michael Heim, whose work the Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (1993) situated technologies of the virtual as ontological machineries, enabling the practical design of modes of experience that philosophers had hitherto only been able to imagine; to paraphrase Marx, where philosophy had only been able to describe the world, virtual reality designers were making new worlds of ontogenetic experience available to their users. Of course, virtual reality is only the last of a long line of technologies of the virtual in the twentieth century, passing through all the technological innovations of cinema, stereoscopy, 3D and other immersive media whose deeper history dates back to panoramas, Viewmasters and other devices, and further to such philosophical machineries as Plato’s cave. More specifically, virtual reality emerges out of an intersection between audiovisual moving images and sounds and computing, that began as early as the 1960s, as so many varieties of what Gene Youngblood called ‘Expanded Cinema’ (1970). This chapter will explore these genealogies of virtual immersive technologies as modes of practical aesthetics, enabling concrete experiences of perceptual transformation and metamorphosis, a becoming other to oneself and one’s habits of perceiving and being in the world. It will argue that rather than the transcendence often attributed to these experiences in the 1990s that immersive technologies of the virtual open up space of pure immanence and becoming which may exceed habitual lived bodies, but only by creating a new body without organs, a ‘new flesh’ of technologically remediated pure immanence. As such it will draw on Deleuzian concepts of the virtual, as well taking a media archaeological approach to the non-linear development of virtual and immersive technologies drawing on the work of Siegfried Zielinski and Jussi Parikka.
|Keywords||Virtual Reality, Immersive Media, Expanded Cinema, the Virtual, ontogenesis, media archaeology, audiovision|
|Book title||A Practical Aesthetics|
|Place of publication||New York; London|