ABSTRACT

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the (near) future of television will witness a triumphant conquest of virtual reality, a realm of experience that, with its cumbersome gear and prohibitive costs, we have grown accustomed to considering as distinct from normal perceptual reality.1 Though we “see the world in three dimensions,” the article notes, “throughout most of history, we’ve only been able to depict it in two.” While this Achilles heel of representationalism has long inspired experiments involving perceptual trickery-and indeed might be credited as inspiration for an entire tradition in Western art-only in the past half century has scientific and artistic attention focused on the total simulation of perceptual reality, on the projection of images in three dimensions. The fruit of this attention, however, has recently undergone a minor revolution, as the article explains:

Until recently no one had come up with a better solution to this problem than goofy eyewear. When Rover sent back images from Mars, NASA scientists studied them wearing much the same glasses that audiences in ‘50s movie palaces donned to watch “It Came from Outer Space.” Within the realms of industry, that’s been changing, as what’s known as stereoscopic imaging has become a big business involving everyone from drug researchers doing molecular mapping to car designers building next year’s SUV.… the ever-evolving high-tech revolution is finally moving 3-D entertainment to the next stage.