straight up
"The personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology." – Marshall McLuhan
Interactive puppet from conFiguring the Cave

Click to play video Excerpt from conFiguring the Cave

Becoming Virtual <ø>

In viewing multimedia's broad historical chronology, we see the timelessness and cyclical nature of human expression – from the dreams and representations as depicted in the prehistoric caves of Lascaux; to the totalizing experience of the Gesamtkunstwerk; to recent digital forms of immersive experience and altered states of consciousness. This notion is expressed through such works as conFiguring the CAVE, created in 1997 by Jeffrey Shaw, Agnes Hegedues, Bernd Linterman and Leslie Stück for the CAVE system at the InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo, Japan. According to curator Toshiharu Ito, conFiguring the CAVE articulates the "fourth dimension that exists between the work and the viewer. In that space, the viewer's awareness and bodily experiences can be restructured and recreated."

In describing immersive forms, "we cannot," according to Margaret Morse, "fully anticipate what it means to experience that realm until we are inside." Interactive multimedia is experiential and sensory, you don’t simply observe the object, you are the object. You enter into and become part of the landscape, not just a detached observer. The medium functions as an extension of the self, a reconfiguration of identity, dreams, and memories – blurring the boundary between self and exterior.

Are we becoming virtual? Pierre Lévy describes virtualization as "that which has potential rather than actual existence. The virtual tends toward actualization. " The revolutionary nature of multimedia, from Wagner to virtual reality, lies in its potential to transform the human spirit.

Just as our prehistoric ancestors painted their own reflections on the walls of Lascaux – history comes full circle, or as T.S. Elliott wrote in the Four Quartets, "my end is my beginning."