Virtual reality (VR) technology will not only bring people an unprecedented sense of reality and immersion, but also bring new dimensions and broader creative space for art.

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) technology has developed rapidly and become a hot spot in the market. The word VR was coined by computer scientist jaren Lanier in 1987. He believes that VR is another reality created through technology. This reality can be a simulation of the real world or a projection of human dreams. VR integrates multiple information channels such as viewing, listening, touching, smelling and tasting. It has the characteristics of immersion, interactivity and autonomy. It can make users forget their real environment and integrate into the virtual world. It can directly control the objects in the virtual world through interactive devices.

With the development of computer, network and display technology, VR technology in modern sense has stepped onto the stage of human culture. In the 1990s, VR began to go out of the laboratory and enter the civil consumer market. Although it was repeatedly frustrated due to its immature technology and high cost, it shone brightly in the field of science fiction and film, and a number of works that attracted the attention of the world, such as nerve Rover and the matrix, emerged. These works do not come out of thin air. They have a real technical foundation and social psychological needs, which in turn stimulate the continuous development of VR technology.

At the beginning of this century, VR began to enter people’s lives more comprehensively, thanks to the latest achievements of computer image processing, mobile computing, spatial positioning, human-computer interaction and other technologies. This round of VR boom covers industrial production, medical treatment, education, entertainment and other fields, and further penetrates into the art field. At present, famous international film festivals such as Venice and Sundance have set up VR work units to attract more and more film and Television Artists. In June this year, Qingdao held the 2019 sand box immersion image exhibition, with more than 50 VR works from more than 20 countries participating. This is the largest VR Art Festival in the world. It has been held for three consecutive sessions, which fully shows that China attaches great importance to VR technology and its pioneering consciousness of integrating it with art.

VR is a new technology and a new medium. It changes the way people perceive the world, expands people’s imagination, and brews new artistic techniques and concepts. From a broader perspective, VR does not fall from the sky. Through the ages, there have been a variety of Arts, but they all simulate reality and depict dreams in a virtual way, providing people with a variety of possibilities of life. Different artistic media have different ways and forms of shaping reality, and the development of media is increasingly influenced by technology.

Throughout the 20th century, image technology has been greatly developed. Film and television have become the mainstream art media, providing unprecedented possibilities for people to virtualize reality at the visual, auditory and other sensory levels. However, the existing film and television media have also developed to a certain limit technically. First of all, film and television needs the help of 2D screens. The audience is always external to their viewing objects. Even 3D technology is difficult to make people truly immersive. Secondly, the audience is always a passive viewer, they can not interact with the viewing object, and interaction is just one of the most basic relationships between human beings and the world. With the development of Internet and video games, people are not satisfied with being passive recipients of information in cultural activities. They have more subject consciousness and need more sense of participation and control.

From this perspective, we can better understand the significance of VR today. In VR, the traditional screen disappears, and the audience really enters the virtual world. At the same time, the audience not only watches with their eyes, but also interacts with the environment with their whole body, which brings an unprecedented sense of reality and immersion, and also fundamentally improves the degree of freedom in the process of art communication.

VR brings a new dimension and broader creative space to art, but it also brings greater challenges. In traditional novels, dramas, films and television, the author and director control the development direction of the work. The linear text, limited screen and “the fourth wall” also make it easy for readers and audiences to follow the perspective, grasp the plot and understand the meaning of the work. In VR, the world unfolds in a panoramic way, and information flows from all directions at the same time. How can people grasp the key points and not lose themselves in the chaotic scene? Here we see the meaning of “restriction” in traditional art wonderfully. New media art can not completely abandon the old art rules, but should further expand its means of expression on the original basis with the help of new technology.

The unprecedented realism and immersion of VR also have another worrying side, that is, it is easy for people to indulge in it and lack of awareness of the boundaries between reality and virtual. Will VR create a new mentality of “everything is ready for me” and push the existing “house” culture to a new height, resulting in the inward trend of human society and losing people’s will to explore and struggle outward? We need such vigilance, but this does not mean that we deny VR, but that we should further explore the combination of technology and art from a humanistic perspective. In fact, AR (augmented reality) technology has been developed from VR, providing us with new ideas to break the virtual closed loop. Ar projects and superimposes virtual images on the real world. Virtual and reality refer to and integrate with each other. To some extent, AR can be understood as a VR that is more open to reality. Similarly, we should always keep an open attitude towards the relationship between virtual reality and reality.

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