Monday, October 22, 2012

Dreaming of Virtual Reality: Magic Book, Inception, the pensieve and All That...

In Magic Book Bolter and Gromala introduced the concept of remediation to us. It's a new word, yet once explained, not entirely unfamiliar to us as we have been living with it all our lives. I was a little surprised that the authors chose to introduce this so far into the book rather than earlier, for it lays a common ground to a lot of the new media trends that are happening right now. 

We are more and more pushing the limit of media and communication to the next dimension: it's all about translation and transformation.

translation: computing one set of knowledge using another set of language via a medium that is unrecognizable to the first set of knowledge. It's a process of coding and decoding. 
transformation: presenting a media style that is not traditionally seen in a certain medium. 

Remediation, in my opinion, combines both. Take a look at the magic book. Books, traditionally considered a medium where you get literal information in a personal scale. With the magic book, you can almost enter a virtual reality through the words and illustration. It's a physical realization of the metaphorical purpose of books. We say that a good book can suck us into the world it creates and make us forget about the present surroundings. With the magic book, we are doing exactly that...we are no longer just READING the book, but rather, EXPERIENCING the book. If we say media is something we use to educate, then the magic book sheds new light to achieving the most effective 
education: just imagine, if we can EXPERIENCE the events depicted in a history book, or see the atoms floating around us as we are learning bio chemistry, or if we can taste the different nuances between flavour A and B in a cooking much easier would it be for us to learn? 

This phenomenon makes me think of three things: the memory palace, inception, and human genome theory. 

It's been practiced by lots of people that the memory palace is a best way to memorize large amount of information most effectively and at ease. We create connections between seemingly unrelated pieces, creating nodes and virtual drawers for the knowledges we ought to remember. The memory palace gives us retrieval cues for everything within reach. We are able to manage, organize the information we acquire. It's an amazing skill yet not impossible to learn. It's a way of utilizing human brain with purpose. 
Inception: Christopher Nolan gave us creeps with that extraordinary film.  Nosce te ipsum he showed us: layers after layers of mind unravels, revealing deeper and deeper stages of our thoughts. 

This process has been a collective dreams of people from all around the world, realizing it in different kinds of literature and art. Silence of the Library from Doctor Who series, a little girl, who had been turned into a super computer,  created a library of all the things she perceived. When people from the outside world entered this world created purely with mind, the order was disrupted. 

And then in Harry Potter, similar thing was realized according to Author JK Rowling with a creation called the Pensieve. It's a shallow stone container in which people can put their memories in. later on one can re-experience those memory liquid in order to re-examine the past and put together links and events. It can also be experience by an outside from a third person point of view. It's sort of extremely vivid and truthful memoir. Does that sound familiar? It's exactly what the magic book is trying to achieve, or, achieving the first step of it. 

The next generation of media is surely moving towards that direction. I always firmly believe that what is depicted in currently fantacy literature is surely the reality of the future, such has been proved by history. Of course, it's forever the two notions: translation and transformation, with which communication continually develops in a looping fashion. 

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