If the idea of virtualization was outdated, it is now exacerbated and questioned by the projects of large digital companies that rely on virtual reality and the creation of meta-universes. Eliminating physical distances, what types of interaction and experience create immersive technologies and how will they evolve?
During the SITEM trade fair, a roundtable was held titled “Do Immersive Technologies Bring Us Closer Together or Are They Tools for Imaginary Social Networking?” It is organized by AFXR, an association that questions immersive technologies and their uses. The conference devoted to the cultural world was above all an opportunity to return to the concept of virtual reality and question it from a philosophical, ethical and social point of view.
David Nahon, Director of Virtual Immersion at Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Laboratory, noted that virtual reality was already a professional medium but had not yet reached the general public. According to him, experiences are often presented as fanciful or dystopian, but rarely as they really are.
A good introduction to Pierre Mousseau, Doctor of State in Political Science, researcher at Télécom Paris Tech and specialist in the concept of fantasy, who provided a philosophical perspective on virtual reality. He explained that the word ‘virtual’ derives from the same Latin word ‘virtualis’ which is translated from the Greek word ‘dunaton’. According to Aristotle’s definition, “dunaton” means what is possible, that is, ability. It translates the idea of movement, flow, change. In Aristotle, “dunaton” is opposed to reality. In the twentieth century it was Bergson and Deleuze who considered the question by opposing the ostensible and the present. Only possible true repeats. While the virtual machine updates itself and makes a difference. Her strength is her creativity.
Outside the philosophical realm, reality is opposed to virtual reality. In 1980, American Jaron Lanier used the term “virtual reality” to describe sensory experiences that a computer produces and manages. Virtual reality revitalizes the contrast between the imaginary/imaginary and the real according to Pierre Mousseau.
According to him, there are three issues behind the concept of virtual reality:
- The first is the idea of spatial delamination. Virtual reality erases the space we can no longer be in. Virtual belongs to another space-time. The challenge is to identify this place and time and build its maps.
- The second is the physical body. Pierre Musso points to Michel Gibson’s Neuromancer book, which inspired the Matrix films. The question is a question of liberation from the body and the relationship with the body.
- The third issue is taken from the work of George Balander which shows that when Christopher Columbus discovered America, this new world was tangible and natural. The contemporary challenge is to discover new, artificial worlds. “We must simultaneously create, explore, understand and establish them.”, he added. According to the researcher, this is the greatest challenge of the twentieth century: “The time for discovery is over. New worlds are no longer connected with lands, but with imagination. And imagination makes it possible to multiply the power of creation.”
Virtual reality questions the idea of existence
Sophie Balcon Formo has written a thesis on the use of virtual reality in the cultural and creative industries. According to her, virtual reality gives the illusion of place and plausibility. It gives the feeling of being there and makes it possible to consider the hypothetical situation reliable. It is often associated with the concept of existence, which is divided into three forms:
- Remote presence, or the feeling of being present in the digital world more than in the physical world.
- Self-existence, or the feeling that the virtual self is experienced like the real self. His virtual body is communicated through avatar and interaction.
- Social presence, or the feeling of being with other people in a virtual world. This presence is linked to the concept of reasonableness.
“These notions of existence are not a state, but a process throughout experience Sophie Balcon Formo explained. It is the principle of embodiment that is based on the acceptance of the environment and the embodied personality. According to her, a virtual reality headset is a machine for communication. But the machine does not change the person. It is man who directs the machine with the standard of what it is. In the cultural world, this experience allows access to knowledge in an active way while cementing it in memory through emotions. “Visitors can show resistance depending on their relationship to digital tools and the collective imagination. They will primarily seek the benefits of such an experience.
According to her, virtual reality makes it possible to create reciprocity between players in the sector and does not create an illusory society. On the other hand, it raises political and ethical questions.
Are the superuniverses the new Wild West?
Later in the conference, Yassine Ait Kassi, Technical Director and Strategist at ELYX addressed the topic of metaverse. He defines them as shared and collective virtual spaces in which the concept of ownership exists. “We live in an exciting time, because the overlay of these concepts is independent of technology,” Did he say? According to him, metaverses are interesting in terms of durability, because they seek to layer rather than accumulate. It is possible to develop immaterial creativity while organizing itself to incorporate carbon emissions in order to incorporate them into the process. “We can modify behavior by will, not by compulsion.”, he added.
“Will each company have its own metaverse?” asked David Nahon. If so, the issue of international governance is critical. A new world leads to the emergence of a new region and thus new frontiers. “In the real world, it is indeed critical. It will be necessary to ensure that these worlds are inclusive.”Yassine Ait Kasi added. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written, no one believed that it should expand into a virtual world.