11 Representing Virtuality
What is Virtual Reality and what is real?
Everything that can be an object of our internal perception is virtual, like the image produced in a
telescope in a telescope by the passage of light-rays
Freud, the Interpretation of Dreams
From Telescope to Camera
o Are the camera’s images virtual?
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
o Already people manipulated images to create ‘special effects’: not reality as it was
Pictures of the ‘Unreal’
o BUT we know that cameras today produce images that are not even representations of
o Rather, they ‘conjure’ an image of something that does not exist – women in ads often do
o The images we capture now are not even representations of reality
Are pictures virtual?
o Yes – the images are not real landscape but a representation (a virtual reality)
o No – the images exist as photo paper, prints, slides for projection, etc. (they exist in
o No – images show something that must be there, or have been there
So how do we define the false ‘reality’ that media culture presents?
Defining Virtual Reality
o 1) Virtual reality refers to an electronic system which is designed to create a simulated
environment around the viewer
o 2) An illusion created by computer hard-ware and software that fools users into thinking
they are somewhere else
A reflection of the new technologies of postmodernity – information, communication, and
biotechnologies and new interactive media (de Lauretis, 2003, 547)
Are we still in the game?
o Allegra and Ted, in ‘real life’ a happily partnered couple, turn out to be th