RSS

Tag Archives: Extended Mind

Reality—actual, potential and virtual

What is reality now? What produces it? What is life? What is living? How do you know? Does reality change? Getting to grips with the complexity of reality in order to make sense of media, cultural and social change

 Are media creating new “virtual worlds”, or was the world already virtual, or both? (ARTS3091 Course Outline Week 5, 2012)

What is authentic, true reality? Is the existential, physical, spatial reality that we humans experience the only true, actual reality? Or, are the virtual, augmented realities that are created through the mediation of data and flows authentic? How do we know what is real?

In the digital age, where globalisation, information networks, instantaneous and invisible flows data, and new media forms interrelate with social and cultural changes, preconceived notions of what is authentic and inauthentic, what is real and unreal, can be challenged.

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

Virtual reality can be defined as “computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds” (Wikimedia, 2012). The simulated environment can be modelled on the existential world so that a life-like experience is created when one immerses themselves in  virtual realities, such as in pilot and driving simulation systems, or in virtual realities depicted in the following video from IDEO Labs:

The human participant immersed in the virtual world in this video shook when he found himself on the ledge of a building, because what he could see, what he could experience, felt real. In actuality, is it real, or is inauthentic? If a virtual simulations/realities/worlds, whether geographic, a pilot simulation, driving simulation or artistic simulation, can draw out from within you real emotions, movements, and engage you physical and cognitive capacities, then there is strong level of authenticity we can attach to these realities.

In contrast to a simulated digital world another alternate reality we can experience beyond our existential one is ‘augmented reality’.

Erick Schonfeld on Techcrunch.com explains that, “if virtual reality is a complete immersion in a digital world, augmented reality (AR) is more a digital overlay onto the real world.  It enhances the real world with digital data, and therefore it is much more interesting than a completely fabricated environment”. (Schonfeld, 2010)

Take for instance the following videos which depict how an augmented reality cinema app for the iPhone works through the digital overlay onto the existential, real world, and how Lego sets are created right in front of you:

Although the technology is different to that of ‘virtual reality’, the participants in each video had enhanced experiences, be it the movie clips on location or the lego set “brought to life”. As opposed to a simulation or copy, a digital overlay occurs. But does this make it any less realistic than virtual reality?

If in both instances we can process the different data and immerse ourselves in enhanced experiences, then we can say that reality has been extended. Drawing upon Week 4’s topic of the extended mind, if we extend our knowledge onto physical objects such as books, diaries, computers, and embed our knowledge in programs like a GPS navigation system, then can it not be argued that virtual or augmented realities are an extension of actual, existential reality?

I would argue that augmented reality would be a greater “extension of the mind” and extension upon actual reality than virtual because of the overlay of data on the physical environment, which correlates with embeding knowledge into technology.

Virtual realities can generate reactions, both emotional and physical, that are authentic. Augmented realities can do the same. The only difference in both is the bodily sense they target, be it sight, touch, sound, taste or smell.

These realities have the potential to be real, but whether they already exist naturally amongst physical, existential reality needs to be addressed before we can determine whether they are real.

References

Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality> (one of the  better entries)

Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo <http://gigantico.squarespace.com/336554365346/2009/6/23/augmented-reality-overview.html>

‘IDEO Labs – Amazing 3D Immersion Technology”, YouTube.com, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ7QJwcdJmM>

Schonfeld, E (2010), ‘Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: Which One Is More Real?’, techcrunch.com, <http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/06/augmented-reality-vs-virtual-reality/>

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

“Global Mnemotechnics”—Globalising Memory, Thinking and Action

How do perception, sensation, thinking and feelings relate? What is consciousness? What is attention?

In an interview with philosopher Alva Noe in 2008,  an explanation between the traditional understanding of how we think and perceive was contrasted against a modern, contemporary and new understanding. He stated:

“The traditional thought is that we perceive in order to act; when we act, we do it to perceive…[In contrast] the ability to move is at the very core of what it means to be a conscious perceiving agent…” (Noe, 2008)

What Noe was exploring was they way in which we understand the relationship between perception and sensation, thinking and feeling. The question this poses is: “Does thinking happen solely in the brain, or is the process of thinking something that extends beyond the muscle, beyond the organ in our head?”.

The notion of the ‘Extended Mind’, in which Clark and Chalmers identify an interrelating system between the body, mind and environment as opposed to notions of these entities being separate, is one way to approach  questions of how humans think and perceive. Furthermore, we need to “go out of our heads and look at the way we are embodied and also bound to and embedded in the world around us” (Noe, 2010).

Embodiment & Experience

Folders and university writing books with countless written notes and mind maps created during my last two years of study, along with my HSC studies, are shelved and organised around my room, either placed nicely in my shelves and bookcase, or stacked in a large plastic container and yet to be put away properly after having moved home weeks prior to the start of 2012.

Within these physical archives lay countless personal knowledge –  wriiten essays, notes and mindmaps dedicated to studies of journalism/media practice and theory, canonical English literature, the poetry of the 18th & 19th century English Romantics, and many more areas of study.

In line with the ‘extended mind’ theory, these archives of notes and essays are an extension of my mind; my extended memory. As Steigler (n. d) explains: ”

“To write a manuscript is to organise thought by consigning it outside in the form of traces, that is, symbols, whereby thought can reflect on itself, actually constituting itself, making itself repeatable and transmissible: it becomes knowledge”.

Unfortunately, while I retain some knowledge of the aforementioned topics, it is ambitious to say that my internal memory contains all that information within it to this day. The common motif of a student in contemporary society – a society where the flow of information is rapid and almost instantaenous due to new media technology, and thus drawing our attention from one thing to another – is that “I remember studying/reading that, but I’ve forgotten what I know”.

As such, my mind, has been extended onto those written notes and essays, those physical forms, and they are, in reality, my knowledge externalised beyond the boundaries of the mind. My understanding of how I think and perceive is no longer that of tradtitional, which separates the mind, body and environment, but an understandig that recognises how these work together as a system.

Stiegler (n. d) writes that “Human memory is originarily exteriorized, and that means that it is technical from the start”, giving rise to Chalmer and Kent’s notion of ‘active externalism’ (Wikimedia, 2012). In understanding mnemotechnics – the art of thinking – it is clear that thinking correlates with experience – and experience is, according to Noe (2008) “always necessarily embodied, environmentally situated, and spread out in time”.

Thinking is not only internal, but external; both mental and physical.

Industrialising Memory

The negative side of mnemotechnology – technology which we place our thinking in – is that memory becomes industrialised. As Steigler puts it:

” [the] more we delegate the execution of series of small tasks that make up the warp and woof of our lives to the apparatuses and services of modern industry, the more vain we become: the more we lose not only our know-how but our know-how-to-live-well”.

The analogy Steigler provides, that the more improved a car gets, such as with the addition of GPS, the less we know how to drive a car, because all the knowledge takes away the opportunity for us to engage with it using our memory, is worrying.

Yet essentially, the notion of an “external mind” for me relates to notion that the media is an externalisation of the mind, and that has both positive and negative consequences as a result of the interlation between media, cultural and social change.

References

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc> (about 9 minutes)

Dalton, S. (n.d.) ‘e sense’ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTtri5jGDc>

Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis>

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain>

Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios (2008) ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <http://www.dance-tech.net/video/1462368:Video:19594>

Wikimedia 2012,

‘The Art Of Memory’, Wikipedia, last updated 6 December 2011, last accessed 18 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_memory>

‘The Extended Mind’, Wikipedia, last updated 22 Friday 2012, last accessed 16 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Mind>

‘Mnemonic’, Wikipedia, last updated 8 March 2012, last accessed 18 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic>

 

Tags: , , , ,