Monday, March 22, 2010

A rape in the Cave.

On friday two things happened: the cave, and RISD Grad students open studios.

The Cave offers a space I considered more open than the name conotes. Platos cave it was not. Heads bobbed around me obsruring the full effect of immursion and reminding me that it was infact only a simulation. First we wander down a white hall freckled with words the color of easter, and when the remote control snags, we crash through the walls and slip through to the fringes of the game. I occupy this space uncomfortably, aware of the hole in the game, I feel unusually unclothed. It is a momentary feeling, perhaps akin to glancing down to realize your fly is undone before anyone else can call you out. This tiny flush of emotion, tacked itself on to my experience. and lingers as a rupture of the imaginary hermetically sealed world that VR promises. The absolute immersion ruptures like light peering through the virtual window or perhaps, the light that flashes in behind two late movie goers, who sneak into the theater 15 minutes late. I left the cave wondering if a cave of full immersion can actually exist or if it is only a imaginary goal.

That night at RISD’s grad open studios, I encountered a media installation that afforded me new perspective on the cave conundrum. The installation projects silently onto a studio wall, littering it with fragments of Obama’s speech on the war in Pakistan. The fragments, estranged from the rhetoric of the speech jeer and stab the viewer with bias, nationalism, and boarder on totalitarianism. The text is Times new roman that mirror what we read in the newspaper. A cartoon image of a person eating popcorn and watching TV, overlays the streaming text. This piece made me feel more immersed in the piece although countless peopled roved across the projection field shooting shadows on the screen. So what then can account for my opposing feelings of “immersion” in both pieces? They are interestingly inverted. And I wonder what connection these experiences have to the window. To the entrance of light; the permeation of the real.

Foucault’s panopticon is constantly transparent, reality pierces through the prisoner, rendering him immobile and conscious of his surveillance. His private place is public, and he submits. But in VR, when reality ruptures the sealed space, it seams ones body is more exposed than that of the prisoner. This makes me wonder if likewise this dichotomy between public/private, surveyed/surveyor, controlled and control. How does Liz canners’s public media displays similarly rupture this dynamic? Or a rape in cyberspace? How does our privacy settings on the internet. What variations can we see in real media objects and text that we have studied?

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