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This nOde last updated February 20th, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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virtual reality (vûr´ch¡-el
A computer simulation of a real or imaginary system that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated system and shows the effects in real time.
Virtual Reality (VR), system that enables users to move and react in a computer-simulated environment. Various types of devices allow users to sense and manipulate virtual objects much as they would real objects. This natural style of interaction gives participants the feeling of being immersed in the simulated world. Virtual worlds are created by mathematical models and computer programs. Virtual reality simulations differ from other computer simulations in that they require special interface devices that transmit the sights, sounds, and sensations of the simulated world to the user. These devices also record and send the speech and movements of the participants to the simulation program.
To see in the virtual world, the user wears a head-mounted display (HMD) with screens directed at each eye. The HMD contains a position tracker to monitor the location of the user's head and the direction in which the user is looking. Using this information, a computer recalculates images of the virtual world to match the direction in which the user is looking and displays these images on the HMD. Users hear sounds in the virtual world through earphones in the HMD. The haptic interface, which relays the sense of touch and other physical sensations in the virtual world, is the least developed feature. Currently, with the use of a glove and position tracker, the user can reach into the virtual world and handle objects but cannot actually feel them.
In recent years, virtual reality devices have improved dramatically as the result of various technological advances. Computers now are more powerful, have a higher memory capacity, are smaller, and are less expensive than in the past. These developments, along with the advent of small liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that can be used in HMDs, have made it possible for scientists to develop virtual reality simulations.
VRML (ver'mel, V`R-M-L')
Acronym for Virtual Reality Modeling Language. A scene description language for creating 3-D interactive Web graphics similar to those found in some video games, allowing the user to "move around" within a graphic image and interact with objects. VRML, a subset of Silicon Graphics' Inventor File Format (ASCII), was created by Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi in 1994. While VRML files can be created in a text editor, CAD packages, modeling and animation packages, and VRML authoring software are the tools preferred by most VRML authors. VRML files reside on an HTTP server; links to these files can be embedded in HTML documents, or users can access the VRML files directly. To view VRML Web pages, users need a VRML-enabled browser, such as WebSpace from Silicon Graphics, or a VRML add-in for Internet Explorer and a VRML plug-in for Netscape Navigator. When virtual reality suddenly appeared on the scene with a big whizbang, Timothy Leary appeared at a conference in New York with Jaron Lanier and a couple of other cybernauts. Leary was wearing the goggles on stage and declared, "Oooh, I have been here before." As that suggests, from the start a connection was established between virtual reality and the LSD experience - or as some of us prefer to call it, 'the entheogenic experience,' which is just a fancy way of not using the word psychedelic because it alerts the police.
Lamborn Wilson - _Neurospace_
The strange people who have already started looking for Satanism in school books, rock lyrics, Dungeon-and-dragon games etc. will really wig out when they start to feel the multi-media and Virtual Reality revolutions. The right wing will have nightmares in the late '90s that will make the 62 Satanism panics of 1982-1993 seem sedate by comparison.
Anton Wilson - _Reality
Is What You Can Get Away With_
"We are no longer in the era of virtue, but virtuality." - Jean Baudrillard
The starships of the future, in other words the vehicles of the future, which will explore the high frontier of the unknown will be syntactical. The engineers of the future will be poets. This is what virtual reality holds out to us - the possibility of walking in to the constructs of the imagination. In a way culture is that. I mean our cities, bridges, highways, airliners and art galleries are condensations out of the imagination, but at tremendous cost because we must make them out of matter. Once we can make them out of light, out of electrons, then we won't build skyscrapers a hundred and twenty stories high, we'll build them as high as we want. Roof height will no longer be a factor ruled by cost effectiveness and gravity, it will be a parameter ruled by the imagination as will all other parameters and then we will discover what man truly is - when we are able to erect, stabilize. share and explore our dreams in a kind of virtual hyperspace that, carefully analyzed, is seen to be linguistic. That's what its connectors are made out of, that's what its ferro-concrete and steel is, is the edifice of language. This is what the stuff of the imagination is made of and I think this is what we're moving toward. The psychedelicshamans have always known this. Now the psychedelic underground art community points toward this goal and leads the way.
_Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality_ by Terence McKenna
"We can use the psychedelics for inspiration, and then download those visions into a more user-friendly, less terrifying environment, so that the opinions of those people who have never taken psychedelics, it has in the pharmaceutical form in fact participated in the psychedelic meme and state of mind. The whole crux of these technologies over the past several hundred years has been first photography, then color photography, then pictures with sound, ever more consistent pictures. Apparently there is this incredible impulse to create artificial simulacra sensations, and now the people who are doing this are so powerful that it isn't unreasonable to imagine creating virtual realities that are indistinguishable from ordinary realities, except that the design criteria would be under the control of the human imagination. That's really where we're headed - this thing that we carry around called the 'mind' or the 'imagination' is a prophecy of a future state of Being."
- Terence McKenna