Imagination and ‘gravity free & reality independent’ ideation are critical to unlocking the true potential of AR and VR.
Why are we so fascinated by Virtual and Augmented technologies? I deem that this is primarily due to our frustration with “reality” as we know it, live it, feel constrained and restrained by it. To a greater or reduced intensity, within each of us lives a dreamer. In other words “Peter Pan” or the “Little Prince.” whomever you identify with, still looms in the state of suspended hibernation, wishing, before our time is up, to experience all that is not feasible in our current lives or reality. Within each of us glows a magic spark eager to reawake, to be reignited and unleashed, and to let us fly wherever our wishes and imagination might propel us.
However, reality, as we know or perceive it to be, is an enormous and enduring foe. It might be some time before we are able to escape its gravitational grip. Still, I passionately believe that such a time will ultimately come.
I went to Singapore some 12 years ago, invited there to spearhead development of the vision and curriculum design for what was to eventually become the School of Art, Design & Media. In the process of researching potential disciplines, I began to discover novel horizons of prospects that will, over the next decade, be unveiled to us by the then just awakening VR and AR. Excited, upon completion of the contract, I launched Ideaforia, a studio devoted to evolution of such ideas. To visualize them, I started to develop conceptual designs probing what will be possible, given imagination, plus further research and advance of these fledging technologies.
Clients found them fascinating, but premature. “Your designs are ahead of their time” or “has this been done ever before?” echoed over and over in and through my aching brain. Why do what has already been done before? Yet frustration, as bitter and infuriating as it can be, can also be rousing and inspiring. And so I continue with my concept designs, which in turn began to extract in me a new slant on ideation and perspective on ways to view the world of original possibilities.
In time this stance distilled into to what I ultimately referred to as “reality free & gravity independent” ideation. In various earlier blog posts I wrote much about it and its power, not just fueling my own projects, or shaping new initiatives, but the methodology I started to introduce into mentoring my students, a skill practiced in the Imagination Workshops, which I have been conducting globally.
VR & AR are the most powerful "magic wands" ever conceived by human genius, and thereafter put in our hands. They empower us to imagine, conceive, envision, create and, to top it all, enter and explore "gravity free & reality independent" worlds, dimensions, and fantastical "un-realities" that are as far reaching as our imagination can take us. This is what I, we, or at least most of us, have been eagerly awaiting for all this time! If you are like me, this is a dream come true, at last.
Finally it seems like all kinds of studios are discovering VR, jumping on the opportunities ahead. Yet from what I have seen, most studios consciously choose to use this powerful “magic wand” to duplicate known realities, worlds, stories and spaces governed by the gravity, physicality, laws, logic and realities within which we live and which, in my humble opinion, many of us would so very much love to escape, even if only temporarily? Am I wrong about this? Comments welcomed.
Thus I have seen flying elephants, whales flowing through space, dinosaurs, environments that most often replicate, and due to current technical limitations still do so not as well as the reality all around us, the space we are supposed to leave behind. Thus, within this ever so magical space, we are bound to kill, win or conquer, instead of being inspired, empowered and enlightened.
Is it because those who are funding development of these new tools are risk averse, or so un-imaginative? Or is it rather because they underestimate the potential users, or do not suppose that the new markets would welcome brand new, ground breaking worlds unveiled to us in breathtaking and inspiring revolutionary approaches to what could actually be, and experienced?
Throughout human history it has been stated that art acts as a reflection of its time, people and their culture, dreams, visions and aspirations. If that indeed is so, than what do many, with some exceptions, of the current VR, AR, games and other of our visual expressions state about us?
Why do we elect to resort to animating monsters, creatures, archetypal aliens, armies of beasts or humanoids, which we invite to harm, kill, overcome in any way possible, to annihilate off the face of the world (or at least until the next play). Is it because we want to feel smarter than these virtual beings, or is because this makes us feel more powerful and smarter than we really are? Is this all we desire out of life, maybe because we are not aware of what is actually possible?
One of the enthusing assignments I give participants of my Imagination Workshops is to rebuff gravity and reality as they all know it and instead start with a null, blank canvas so to say, then “imagine and envision the worlds, and all and everything within them, they would fashion if they were the All Mighty Creators wielding infinite Godly powers.” Isn’t this what imagination is about?
Not many years back humanity did not foresee discovering technology or computers or Artificial Intelligence. Yet, thanks to the mighty imagination of a few, these and more did emerge out of no more than ideas sparked by their forward thinking vision and capacity to envision potentials that did not yet exist. This is what ideation, innovation and invention are all about. And all it takes is imagination.
I deem that VR and AR extend to us powers not only to envision such dimensions, worlds and dazzling un-realities but to create them, and then to interactively explore everything within them.
Until this happens, remaining frustrated, I wish to reach beyond what is being done or has been seen or experienced thus far. I envision virtual and augmented environments and worlds within which each user is able to creatively interact with and, more excitingly, alter dramatically by shifting their chemical, material, physical qualities, shapes, structures, even properties and behaviors, Thus, in the process, they will transform them into new visual worlds of infinite possibilities, over which we have Creator-like control. This will be tremendously inspiring, empowering and enlightening to so many.
By rejecting reality and gravity and all else we already know, have experienced, and have been programmed and brainwashed by, I invite you to imagine finding yourself within a 3 dimensional, totally immersive VR space as it metamorphically, magically and majestically evolves all around you, interactively changing according to your wildest wishes and wants. A world you already can see and touch but soon will also be able to smell and taste. I find such a prospect breathtaking. So much is already achievable, and our imagination is the only limitation to making it all happen.