Can You Experience the World Without Seeing It?

Been chatting with the IT guy at work.  He just got the PlayStation VR kit and he’s in fucking love with it.  He concedes that there isn’t much to do on it yet, but he is convinced that it’s the coolest thing of our day and age.

When we originally started this blog I brainstormed like ten to twelve ideas for things to write about.  One of them was could you use Google Maps and various forums to become cultured?  If we start creating simulations of various famous places and eventually the world in VR, will experiencing these places be the same as having gone there yourself?

I learn more about the world from my computer than I do by traveling obviously.  Learning the facts and reading about various cultures is all well and good, but how do we define experience?  Is there something about physical presence that is required?

I’ve been to Paris and I’ve seen the Notre Dame with my own eyes.  Its a magnificent building and a beautiful church.  If you created a virtual simulator that was photorealistic and told me it was fake, would that change my experience?  You can capture the texture, the size, the location, the weather- so is there actually a barrier?

Now that I’ve set it up I’m going to knock it down by saying that no, it will never be the same.

My job is to create images that are realistic enough to concept and prototype fixtures that will exist in the real world.  I spend my time at work creating photorealistic images.  I can find real textures and create super accurate materials.  I can use lighting profiles from electric companies to perfectly simulate light color, diffusion, decay and light shape.  I can tell my computer to make thousands of calculations per pixel to create the greatest quality image.

The problem I face creating these images is that I know its a rendering, not a photo.  I’m sure most people look at my images and are able to identify that they are fake.  Even if its completely photo-accurate, my biggest disadvantage is the human mind.

With all of that being said your mind will understand and process the actual event more than any simulation.  You will know and rationalize a simulation because your mind connects the distance between sight and understanding.  It’s the same reason seeing a photo or a video of these places and peoples will never be the same as being there.

Food for thought.

-DTM

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