“Virtual,” from the O.E.D. definition under “computer/virtual”…

“Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so from the point of view of the program or the user.”

I always feel like an old phogey for not believing in the certain future of the “holodeck” experience, but I just have an abiding hunch that only some form of hallucinatory approach will ever actually make a virtual world  “feel” real.

That said, “immersive media” are an exciting and intriguing approach to this abiding desire to “go without going.”  Who knows what the term will eventually come to encompass, which senses will become engaged, what fields of interest will play around with and/or make use of immersive experiences?

Much research lies ahead, questions swarm. How many senses can become involved before the “interface” becomes overwhelming, more distraction than entryway? How does one overcome the “knowledge” that the experience is virtual? Does the viewer need to be “ambushed” to cross that gap? Or is that very “suspension of disbelief”  half the fun?  Will decisions about  “reality based” vs. “stylized”  design become the most engaging artistic decision?

I see immersive media as one of the more fertile areas for art-science cross fertilization. Artists have long sought to create a literally “moving” experience, whether emotionally or lavishly materially driven. Science, be it in the realms of study of the human condition, understanding the workings of the material world, or the interface between, can generally find playfully posed questions embedded in any art installation or creative excursion into the human interface with the universe. Artists and scientists always seem to find each other endlessly intriguing and inspiring, and immersive media is one area in which I continually catch that gleam in the eye which heralds a delicious encounter with a new path of exploration for a busy mind.

As an artist working in immersive media, I find fascination in even the simplest questions arising in the design of a piece…

“If I use ‘immersive techniques’ to present existing ideas/materials, in an adaptive or even simply ‘plugged in’ fashion, what sorts of things work, and which simply feel “stretched to fit’?” and why?

“If I focus on immersion, do I risk losing focus, story, message?  Or worse, slip into gimmick or gadgetry?” What helps?

“Which practices help to keep art alive when surrounded by highly technical concerns?”

“How much should I “think” and how much just “do” in the making of any given work of art…and is this a highly personal question in which each practitioner must find their own sweet spot?”

“Same question for scientists… where is your sweet spot between intuition and thought?”

I have often attempted to organize and coherently present my ideas and experience in this realm. But I  find that my own “sweet spot” is far to the intuitive side and so although my head swims with questions, ideas, experiences, and intriguing factoids, this boiling cloud defies graphing. So I intend to use this blog to simply ramble on, pick a subject broad or tightly specific, and just put the thoughts and lists and stories out there, maybe hoping to invite some conversation.