Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Visual Contemplation of Virtual Life as Pop Art

Botgirl Manga Quad
Botgirl Manga Quad

I'm still resonating with ideas and images kicked up by a weekend watching Andy Warhol documentaries and Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. I'm suddenly seeing the digital world as a pop art microcosm of the physical world. Looking closely, the shiny artifice of virtual life shifts into a funhouse mirror that reveals otherwise unseen aspects of human existence.


LaPiscean Liberty said...

Botgirlq Warhol, nice Art. :)

Sean Kleefeld said...

Isn't the goal of all art, pop or otherwise, to shed light on the human condition? While there's obviously a lot of science in the programming behind virtual worlds, aren't they just forms of expression, i.e. art?

Botgirl Questi said...

Sean: I think that's true if you're thinking about virtual worlds as a medium of art, rather than as an environment in which people live part of their lives. I think that people's psychological experience within a virtual world is very similar and in some ways identical to what is perceived within a physical location. So, if you're in a virtual world nightclub chatting up some hot avatar, your brain is processing the sensory impressions as it would the same experience in a bar in the physical world. Just as the objects within the RL bar have been created by humans and so can be viewed as craft or art, the same is true within the digital world.

Banrion Constantine said...

I just wanted to share this because it seems to tie in with past conversations about virtual identity. So you're right, Botgirl, that our psychological experiences crossover into the virtual world. Or at least many emerging studies and a number of older ones support that.

"The authors argue that the participants, in effect, psychologically internalized their virtual experience. “What we learn in one body is shared with other bodies we inhabit, whether virtual or physical,” they concluded.

It seems people will psychologically inhabit almost any virtual body if the cues are strong. In recent research a team led by Mel Slater, a computer scientist at the University of Barcelona, induced what it calls body-transfer illusion — showing that men will mentally take on the body of a woman, for instance, if that’s the body it appears they’re walking around in virtually. The experience is especially powerful, Dr. Slater said, when the men feel a touch (on a shoulder, in a recent study) at the same time the avatar is touched.

“You can see the possibilities already,” said Dr. Slater. “For example, you can put someone with a racial bias in the body of a person of another race.”

These kinds of findings have inspired a variety of simple experiments. Dropping a young man or woman into the virtual body of an elderly person does in fact increase sympathy for the other’s perspective, research suggests.

“This is to me the most exciting thing about using virtual environments for behavior change,” Dr. Bailenson said. “It’s not only that you can create these versions of reality; it’s that you can cross boundaries — that you can take risks, break things, do things you could not or would not do in real life.” "

This is from The New York Times article - In Cybertherapy, Avatars Assist With Healing (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/science/23avatar.html?_r=1&src=dayp)

Botgirl Questi said...

Banrion: Thanks for the quote and link!