Monday, November 9, 2009

Virtual Reality

In an exploration of the transition of our modern society into one dependent on probabilities (and therefore simplified mathematical statistics), Terranova discusses how the relation between the real and the possible births a type of improbability called the virtual. In this exploration of the limits of possibility, there is a distinct difference between the real (what is actualized in cultural politics), the possible (what we can imagine, strive towards with technological advances, etc, and eventually create/obtain/know) and the unpredictable (which inherently represents an eventual failure of technology to foresee, most common in natural disasters or other forces of nature). The virtual, however, seems to represent that which is actually unobtainable, but resists unpredictability. The virtual can be imagined in its entirety but can never quite be obtained by those who dream of it- it is predictable/imaginable, yet never actualized in reality (never here must mean improbable/unlikely, for who truly knows the limits of possibility?). Terranova describes the virtual as made possible with the benefit of hindsight and "involves opening up a real understood as devoid of transformative potential to the action of forces that exceed it from all sides." It most certainly seems then that the virtual is based extensively on the real (and therefore the possible) yet remains outside of it through an inventive process. Thus, the virtual is created by man, sustained by him/her, and must therefore be executed/explored by him/her as well. We are surrounded every day by virtual outlets that have become an escape from reality rather than an exploration of the limits of possibility. How has intellectual curiosity of virtual space turned into such frivolous and passive virtual activities as The Sims or Gigapets? Terranova states that "the virtual can only irrupt and then recede" which connotes a very deliberate act of entry and, upon leaving the virtual, only works to accentuate the closed set of possibilities provided by the real. Why have we become so obsessed with delving into the virtual world if it only highlights the shortcomings of our real world? Or is this part of the process of exploring the limits of possibility? Perhaps we must realize the probable by first discovering the improbable, then work towards the possible....

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