some thoughts on Manovich as I was reading last week

Below are some thoughts of mine as I was reading Manovich last week but did not develop further or post as my laptop died on me.  I thought I might as well post it.


Representations of the world via virtual reality objects contextualizes a narrative, impacts the delivery and reception of the narrative, but it is not in its self the narrative.  It is like the props of a play.  The props can be elaborate and appear true to life, or they can be minimal, requiring our imaginations to fill in the gaps.  Yet the props, the stage, the context are not the main attraction.  The story, the narrative to be communicated, the sharing of an experience is the thing to be obtained.  The props then are just vehicles for the sharing of experiences.  They are not realities in and of themselves to get forever lost in.  Even the narrative is not to be confused with the reality that it is speaking about.  A play is just a reenactment of an experience.  It is true that a good play will evoke fresh emotions and ideas; but again the actors of the play, the virtual avatars, are just stand-ins for reality and real time experiences.   New media types will enhance the play, the modeling of the real.  It will also begin to blur the line for many between the real and the virtual.  Just yesterday I read where a couple got divorced because one partner had a virtual affair in a virtual digital reality.  When the wife found out, she was so hurt that she filed for divorce.  Apparently her justification for divorce held up in court.  Another example is where a person was convicted of theft for stealing a virtual object off of a network virtual reality game of some sort.  Simulations can be very useful, like flight simulators that test a pilot’s responses to various catastrophic failures of an airplane in flight.  However, it seems that we have a fetish for making the imagined the real.   It perhaps appeals to certain brain centers and releases chemicals that some how keep us coming back for more, like a drug.  Perhaps it is a way to deconstruct our existing reality that is going by at too fast a pace that we don’t have the luxury of time to savor the fleeting moments, to digest and assimilate them into our consciousness.  So by manufacturing facsimiles of reality, we get a chance to play, explore our feelings, construct appropriate responses when the real in that practiced area comes by again.  Yet again, there are those who don’t bother making hard distinctions between the real and the facsimile.  It seems to be a survival mechanism in a fast paced, world were representations are modeling the real to such a realistic degree that focusing on the line of distinction becomes a bothersome or wasteful activity in itself.  If it looks like a duck, quack like a duck, sounds like a duck, that it is a duck; except that I want my child to grow up knowing the distinction between the virtual and the real.   Do they still call people psycho if they can’t, or are they now a newly adaptive kind of human?


On the other side, modeling the real is a powerful means of exploring the nature of the real.  It allows us to rotate, slice, dice, slow, down, speed up, spoil, enhance, associate, starve, infect and cure the virtual so that we can hopefully better comprehend, appreciate, and productively engage the real.  If I look up at a night sky in the planetarium and see countless stars with great clarity, does that clarity trump looking up at a nights sky where lights don’t allow me to see the stars as clearly?


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