VR Field Trip

By Margaret Dickinson

Co-ordinated by Margaret Dickinson

Vertigo took three young people to Virtual ‘S’ studios in Mortlake, where virtual reality (VR) programs are designed. They talked to designers and tried out a VR program designed for a Canon sales conference. They also tried out the VR games at the Trocadero in Piccadilly. Some of their reactions are recorded here.

‘Many people think that the name “virtual reality” is very misleading. Make your way down to the Trocadero and you’ll probably feel the same.

‘But strange as it may sound, I actually think this is a very appropriate name. Tell me what supposedly new and wonderful thing in life is ever as good as it is cracked up to be? What after all could not be amazingly improved with enough research and money?

‘So time goes on, “virtual reality” gets better and better, but what is real “reality” anyway if there are imitations of it?’

Hannah Loïzos (age 14 years)

‘Ian, the owner, said that in the future “virtual reality” would be more than just visual and audio, it would have pressure pads and you would be able to smell as well, so virtual reality would actually be so virtual that you couldn’t tell whether it was VR or not.

‘I can’t quite believe that it could get to that stage because even with the amount of technology we have, it would need so much more.’

Jess Chanan (age 14 years)

‘Although it is very basic now, as VR technology improves the image will become much clearer and more realistic and touching things and people will be introduced so that people will almost certainly be writing programs of virtual sex and Streetfighter 2. There will be portable VR sets which would allow me to slip on a pair of sunglasses and VR myself over to one of my mates’ houses instead of writing this article. Businessmen and women would never be late for important meeting and people could meet each other for a chat without ever getting stuck in traffic jams or bomb scares.

‘In fact people could spend their whole lives sitting in a dark room with a tube stuffed down their throat pumping puréed food into their fat unexercised bodies, headsets over their eyes like huge fat maggots which are never to pupate and yet still have an absolutely fabulous life, going to parties and night-clubs with all their friends, real or polygonal, and travelling to Hawaii every Monday evening for a drink, then down to the café, then flying off to Mars for supper with hundreds of wonderful people who all want to sit at your table and watch you perform your amazing acrobatic flying stunts that are renowned throughout the known universe before popping off to a mass orgy in the local pub.’

Thomas Glyn Brown (age 14 years)

‘All these visions and revisions of modernity were active orientations toward history, attempts to connect the turbulent present with a past and future, to help men and women all over the world make themselves at home in this world. These initiatives all failed, but they sprang from a largeness of vision and imagination, and from an ardent desire to seize the day. It was the absence of these generous visions and initiatives that made the 1970s such a bleak decade. Virtually no one today seems to want to make the large human connections that the idea of modernity entails. Hence discourse and controversy over the meaning of modernity, have virtually ceased to exist today.’ – Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air (1982)