280MAPA research diary #4

Postdigital Aesthetics

In the dictionary, “the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty”  is called aesthetics. I believe that in the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in how people perceive and portray aesthetics and it is mainly the result of constantly evolving digital media technologies. The importance of it grew as well because not only does this generation is focused on beauty of physical things and appearance but also we usually have to portray an image of some sort on the internet and have a social media presence. Now we have the access to the virtual/digital world where new opportunities of exploring different variations of aesthetics arise.

The perfect result of aesthetics in the digital world is Virtual Reality. The right combination of image depth, lighting, good use of colours can create an illusion of a different world. According to Adam Dachis, “Your brain only receives the visual data captured through your eyes. While your eyes, together, can perceive depth, they can’t measure it perfectly or provide any contextual information. They simply pass along what you see and the brain has to interpret it. If your brain isn’t searching for a visual anomaly in the images your eyes provide, you’ll fall victim to the illusion.” That means, that we can easily get fooled into seeing unreal things and not even question them. By awkwardly sitting and wearing chunky tech glasses you are able to travel around the world, enjoy art or even play games by just moving your eyes/head. Games that expose the player to scenes that involve running, jumping, spinning can affect the person, because it tricks the mind. For instance, because of the visuals, you get fully immersed in the virtual world and your brain might think you are running in a field but your body remains stationary. This contradiction might result in undesirable VR motion sickness, also known as cybersickness. It causes “eyestrain, headache, nausea or even vomiting” (Tiiro 2018) as well as it can make us feel “stressed, depressed or drained of meaning”(Berry and Dieter 2015). “It has been estimated that around 20% to 80% of the population experiences cybersickness to some extent” (Tiiro 2018) and it proves how powerful aesthetics are.

The right use of technology can create a big change in the world as we don’t necessarily need to use it just for games. It can be used in workplaces for employee training if doing it in real life it too expensive or too dangerous. VR also takes a big part in education as it can bring the outside world to the classroom and improve visual learners’ learning process.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise how powerful the combination of aesthetics and the digital can be. For the sake of entertainment, education, work purposes it plays the human mind and lets us explore the other (advanced) world.

 

 

References:

***Berry, D. and Dieter, M. (2015) Postdigital Aesthetics. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK

*** Dachis, A. (2016) How Virtual & Mixed Reality Trick Your Brain [online] available from <https://next.reality.news/news/virtual-mixed-reality-trick-your-brain-0171367/&gt; [12 March 2018]

*** The Definition Of Aesthetic (n.d.) available from <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/aesthetic&gt; [17 March 2018]

*** Tiiro, A. (2018) Effect Of Visual Realism On Cybersickness In Virtual Reality. Master’s Thesis. University of Oulu

 

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