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A metro station dipped in golden light

Lucia Mendelova and Tobias Matzner

The Real of Virtual Reality – Reflection or Affects?

Virtual reality is – not real. It is virtual. But at the same time it is a real experience and claims to show us something real: VR movies that allow 360° gaze controlled by a head mounted display promise to transport more information and a more »immersive« experience at the same time. It is a matter of course for many media theorists that every picture taken, every film that is shot, does not simply depict an aspect of reality but creates a new one. But creating and watching images and films is nevertheless structured by practices that separate real from fake or objective from suggestive content. They are based on reflecting our experiences with technologies, the established modes of depicting certain things, the social knowledge about the people and things which are depicted and many more. Consequently, the real of reality in images and film is also a matter of (implicitly) reflecting what we see rather than a direct effect of what we see. VR films raise the promise to create an experience that is much closer to »being there«. They claim less need for reflection and foreground the affective experience of the spectator by their »immersive« character. Thus, VR films reconfigure the question what is decisive for the real of reality: reflection or affects? Our talk will engage this question by approaching the materiality of the spectators and their (technical) environment concerning the reconfigurations of affectivity and reflection they bring about.

Lucia Mendelova, PhD. currently lives in Bremen where she studies MA in Digital Media (HfK Bremen). Since 2013, when she finished her PhD in Philosophy (Comenius University Bratislava, specialisation on feminist epistemology), she works as a new media artist in the field of visual communication of complex systems as well as in the field of virtual realities. Her works are saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes. By manipulating the viewer to create confusion, she touches various overlapping themes and strategies of hybridisation and situated knowledges.

Tobias Matzner is a research associate at the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities in Tübingen, Germany. He works in the fields of media ethics, philosophy of technology, and gender studies. His research shows how fundamental political concepts like subject, body, autonomy, or freedom change through the spread of digital technologies. After graduating as a computer scientist, he completed a PhD in philosophy, both at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

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