Virtual Reality

"virtual reality always feels like it's about to happen." Jaron Lanier
VR is "an attempt to wrest the reality of the real away from it." (E. Grosz) 

"According to the old philosophical distinction between capacity and act, virtual reality is nothing but a potential awaiting its full actualization. Virtual reality is by no means unreal, but its full effect is not yet in evidence. Reality is not the problem; it is its full development or presence that is partly lacking." ( Antoine Picon, "Architecture, Science, Technology and the Virtual Realm" in Architecture and the Sciences, p. 295.) 

In common contemporary usage, virtual reality is a particular way of experiencing cyberspace, currently associated with the prosthetic goggles and glove which maximizes the sense of "being there" bodily. 

VR is a simulation of embodied presence, based on a feedback loop between the user's sensory system (see proprioceptive ) and the cyberspace domain, using real-time interactions between physical and virtual bodies. It relies on the assumption that the senses function as they always have, even in the face of perceptual inputs that have been drastically altered. Yet one of the principal "allures" of virtual reality is its promise to leave the body, on what Elizabeth Grosz calls "somatophobia." 

Technologies like VR are often referred to as immersive. In so doing, they recall the feeling of the "oceanic" referred to in the beginning of Freud's Civilization and its Discontents. Freud countered Romain Rolland's suggestion that such a feeling may be the source of the religious with a description of the "oceanic" as the persistence of the "primary ego-feeling" experienced by the infant. (see play

Freud talks about the construction of a wish and the introduction of delusion into reality as the way of the paranoic and as the basis of religion. "No one," according to Freud, "who shares such a delusion ever recognizes it as such."(descriptions of "consensual hallucination" in cyberspace)

Elizabeth Grosz characterizes the relationship between virtual or cyber-space and real space as conceived as a relation of mind to body, or transcendence to immanence, with all the hierarchical priveleges accorded to mind in Western thought. 

see VR/Arch