Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Rob Giblett

Abstract

In this thesis I will examine the construction of the concept of Virtual Reality. I argue that rather than a technology of liberation as it is often perceived, virtual realities' conception has been influenced significantly by a discourse of control and order. I examine books, articles and films concerning Virtual Reality to support this claim. Furthermore this discourse of control and order is born out of a larger ideology of Western culture that values order and control. Throughout modernity this ideology has manifested itself through techniques and technologies of social and environmental control. I provide a brief historical outline highlighting some of these techniques and technologies focusing particularly upon surveillance. I suggest that under the guiding influence of the ideology of order and control one possible future use for Virtual Reality technology may be as a surveillance technology. The ideology of order and control is born out of a desire to transcend the unpredictable nature of life. This desire is reflected in the VR proponents aim to create a totally known and controlled artificial environment. I contend that an alternative way of thinking is needed so that objects such as Virtual Reality can be used for more appropriate purposes other than controlling and ordering. I draw upon the philosophy of Martin Heidegger to outline a thinking that is more open, and reflective, and that embraces the chaotic nature of existence. Such a thinking that is focused more upon the actual conditions of our everyday lives, may yield uses for technologies such as Virtual Reality that are more focused upon people's needs.

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