Sunday, 16 April 2017

VIRTUAL REALITY AND THE DIGITAL DÉRIVE



Within virtual environments we have the free will to walk anywhere in a seemingly infinite landscape yet we are controlled by a programmer, our movements monitored by a machine with a processor mapping our liminal location. Politicians and programmers in this context could be seen as similar beings, positioning people in spaces and places the end users are ultimately controlled, our free will is an illusion.

Our politics of space is transfigured by a capitalist landscape, profit and power pervade our existence. Today we walk under the mercy of the digital dérive we wander aimlessly in a series of hyperlinked portals absorbing ourselves increasingly into our screens. Our spatial existence is performed within a controlled cartography, an LCD super HD 4K resolution screen of some shape. We complete the same performance of the swipe on the infinite scroll, moving left to right, top to bottom in a dismissive action.

Continually connected tethered by wireless hotspots we have met as writer George Orwell states in 1984 “…in the place where there is no darkness.”  Our devices are always on, breathing inhaling and exhaling as we do, the sight of iPhones on life support chained to a power bank so that our energy sapping devices have breath in their digital lungs to get through the day. 

Screens become the embodiment of our actual environment presenting our surroundings to us as a series of infinite interpretations. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche states: “There are no facts only interpretations”, in the endless reprint of the Internet fact becomes fiction, reality is mutated by digital representation. The human form becomes the ultimate print matrix receiving and sending data via telecommunications, our bodies are extended by the Telematic Embrace (Ascott, 2007).

The prosthetic pulse of telecommunications devices interrupt our time, functioning as artificial pacemakers – they set our hearts racing or drop us like a stone. From Instagram photos of someone’s lunch whose looks better than your dodgy sandwich to the thrill of the chase and a sideways swipe on Tinder. New digital architectures house our souls, they embody our lives as prints of the self – the ideal self. Our egos print a representation of ourselves as we build virtual architectures to house our digital self.  

So what are you waiting for? Join in with the #sadsandwich and sideways swipe at your own risk and wander aimlessly in the virtual sandwich of your dreams.

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