This put up is a part of an ongoing collection about writing, storytelling, and critique in VR, in partnership with Galatea, a writing and undertaking management instrument for immersive tales.

VR has already impacted so many areas of contemporary life, and is poised to affect a lot extra within the coming years. Proper now, I’m most excited concerning the methods it’s inflicting us to replicate on the very notion of reality. Bear with me—this isn’t half-baked rambling.

What’s Reality?

VR has already begun to assist us analyze the methods we assemble our personal realities. An increasing number of, it’s additionally illuminating the methods we now have the power to assemble new ones.

Regardless of a hefty identify, the concept of a “reality tunnel” is definitely fairly easy. Every of us has lived a novel life with distinctive experiences, and our minds have crafted an understanding of “reality” round these subjective experiences. The sum of those experiences is our reality tunnel, our particular person expression (and notion) of “the world as we know it.” Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins’s keynote at Unity’s Imaginative and prescient Summit does a superb job revealing the various ways in which reality is created within the thoughts:

As you possibly can see, “reality” has by no means been an goal given. VR is simply serving to us notice how we are able to analyze and study from these “reality tunnels” we every create in our minds. Guerrilla Ontologist Robert Anton Wilson explains it this fashion:

…the mind receives billions of alerts each minute, and out of them we choose a small portion and make an image, which we undertaking exterior and name reality—that’s our reality tunnel.

One of many fascinating side-effects of our fast technological development has been to assist us collectively notice that reality is fluid. With a communication instrument as highly effective and disruptive as the Web, we’ve been given each a telescope and microscope to witness how assorted every individual’s thought of reality actually is.

What Does This Need to do with VR?

The expression “Virtual Reality” is, in its means, redundant. It’s the equal of claiming “wet water”—it implies that there are cases the place reality is not virtual. This may occasionally sound like semantic tomfoolery, but it surely’s not. The “real” is, in essence, additionally “virtual.”

Our reality tunnels are virtual constructs consisting of language, names, emotional habits, and cultural contexts. The “bricks” of our reality tunnels are themselves items of knowledge—out of your reminiscence of what you ate for breakfast this morning to your grasp of summary ideas just like the passing of time. The truth that these components are “virtual” doesn’t imply they’re irrelevant, fairly the opposite. One may even say that we are that data, that we embody and we act out these virtual strings of information.

Why am I telling you all these items? As a result of I wish to design reality, and I’m excited by the methods VR provides us a framework to just do that.

When, hundreds of years in the past, our ancestors painted on cave partitions or advised tales round campfires—and even when, as a baby, we listened to fairytales—our minds and our hearts believed the content material of these tales. We actually believed there have been dragons and princesses in castles, or that there have been half-human half-beast beings lurking at nighttime of evening exterior the cave.

The important thing factor was that we wholeheartedly believed these issues. Typically they entranced us; generally they scared us. Our undeveloped intellects trembled earlier than the prospect of an unknown, and handled it utilizing fantastical tales and metaphors and dream readings. Even at this time we should personally take care of what we don’t know—it’s an inherent characteristic of life.

I keep in mind, as a baby, waking up terrified in the midst of the evening terrified of the “hooded ones” who had been coming to get me. I nonetheless do to at the present time.

And the entire level right here is to say that, to design reality, one should dissolve its present foundations earlier than reassembling it. And for that we want Animism.

See the Life Pressure in Every little thing

Animism is outlined because the attribution of a residing soul to vegetation, inanimate objects, and pure phenomena. In different phrases, Animism is once you’re optimally immersed—in a VR type of means—on the planet round you. You see the life and which means in all issues. This may occasionally sound somewhat granola, however once we can acknowledge this life drive, our reality tunnels immediately turn out to be fluid and malleable. The imaginative chance in each area and interplay skyrockets.

That’s what we now have to think about as we construct apps, games, and some other experiences for immersive applied sciences. That is akin to psychedelic experiences, the place the bricks of our reality tunnels are reshuffled and recombine themselves.

I’ve written in the past concerning the notion of “Post-Architecture.” To recap:

…it’s the Metamodern design philosophy that’s not about designing area in itself, however about designing folks by means of area. In Publish-Structure, area is the story, and you are the (narrative) design.

So, does Publish-Structure suggest a technique that makes use of VR, AR and MR to reclaim this reality-shaping power? I argue that it does.

That is the power to recombine perception; the power to control perceptions of the world and of realities for your self and others; the power to take part in constructing your individual reality tunnel, to enter worlds the place the whole lot round you is risky and alive and magical in ways in which presently only exist in your creativeness.

The easy act of drawing on a cave wall was one of many first really magical actions, whereby our ancestors interfered with the prevailing order of the world by tweaking with their media and data atmosphere. It was the next order of motion than responding to base-level wants (ie. fetching water). They took the primary, heroic steps right into a world that was completely unknown and exterior—their informational atmosphere—by naming it and giving it which means. They forged “light” out from “darkness,” in a way. This was the metaphoric delivery of the Logos. For a number of main world religions, that is described as, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The place- and nonetheless that high-order gesture came about, it was the primary brick within the nice, virtual constructing that’s the Human Enterprise—our collective meta-reality tunnel.


Concepts are virtual, however in a means they’re additionally essentially the most persistently actual factor we now have. David Abram, in “The Spells of the Sensuous,” tells us that:

As a Zuni elder focuses her eyes upon a cactus and abruptly hears the cactus start to talk, so we focus our eyes upon these printed marks and instantly hear voices. We hear spoken phrases, witness unusual scenes or visions, even experience different lives. As nonhuman animals, vegetation, and even “inanimate” rivers as soon as spoke to our oral ancestors, so the ostensibly “inert” letters on the web page now communicate to us! This can be a type of animism that we take with no consideration, however it’s animism nonetheless—as mysterious as a speaking stone.

And certainly, it’s only when a tradition shifts its participation to those printed letters that the stones fall silent. Solely as our senses switch their animating magic to the written phrase do the bushes turn out to be mute, the opposite animals fall dumb.

Time to Consider in Magic Once more

That is precisely the ethos of Augmented and Blended Reality—bringing the world again to life. Solely on this case, we’re making our imaginations actual to our different senses. To successfully create immersive tales and engender presence, we have to create the preconditions for perception to happen. We now have to ask one another into highly effective showcases of a reimagined realities.

To make sense of the approaching New Reality Revolution, we’ll want to overcome nihilism and cynicism, and imagine within the which means of the world once more. As naive as it’d sound, we should carry again animism and magic, shamanism and fairies. Creators must act as shamans and magicians, the mediators between the realms of the Gods and the realms of Man.

After we, as creators, turn out to be shamans, our tales achieve the power to sway coronary heart, thoughts, and soul. This has all the time been true, however within the coming period, our tales will likely be in all places, throughout us, and ultimately: unattainable to separate from base reality. So there’s by no means been a extra vital second to internalize these concepts—on the onset of a very new paradigm.

We’ll start to climb the stairway that results in the masterpiece of the 21st century—a masterpiece which is properly on its means. A masterpiece that will, in “reality,” be “virtual.”

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