Virtual reality

project "monsters of modernity" #1

painting, acrylic on wood, 2 x 1 m

 

These monsters are virtual representations of ourselves. They live mainly on Internet media such as social networks, chat rooms etc. where they interact with other virtual images. In this new reality our values are skewed. But therein we are so comfortable, that we drive our monsters on – and let us be pulled by them simultaneously.

            Today, instead of having to sit in the cinema and watch an ancient battle, you are permanently taking part in interactive action. Your decisions are needed – as a media director in your home productions, from travelogues to documentary videos; as a participant in online games that can even be linked to real world locations; or in numerous other ways from the vast reservoir of your participation choices … always connected to the Internet.

            There are obvious benefits, through which this new, virtual world has become such an attractive haven: information exchange almost without delay, and the possibility to give one’s creativity full play. However, what risks exist when anybody is able to publish content, relatively unsupervised? As a possible consequence, satiation could occur regarding certain information (e. g. the news). And increasing numbers of trivial and unsavory content can produce a negative influence upon mankind.

In addition, I was wondering: What kind of connection links man to his self-generated media content? I believe that the core element of this connection is the creation of a likeness in the virtual environment. Such a being enables its creator to voice himself anonymously and to unfurl freely inside the virtual realm. Thus prompting another consideration: What prevents us from acting likewise in real life, as we do in the anonymous virtual world? And what about the temptation to spend ever larger portions of one’s time in a second (or third, or fourth …) world, especially since the Internet offers more and more possibilities? Every day, we invent and cultivate a variation of ourselves on the Internet – usually an idealized version. In this process, the reaction of society plays a major role, because despite the freedom of choice, this variation will usually comply with other people’s expectations in the end – or what we consider them to expect. According to C. Kuli, the self-image or "The Ego" is first and foremost a reflection: about other people’s opinions and sympathy toward us (and others). Using these assumptions, we generate an ideal about our own self, in order to help us gain as positive reactions as possible from our reference group.

 

The system’s response to our self-generated content is essential to the process of identity formation. Virtual identities and dependency upon judgment by anonymous third parties: this constitutes the monster of virtual reality.