New virtual reality technology offers a window into our future, but it also poses a number of questions, enough to leave some feeling queasy.
The Oculus Rift.
Gamers like the oculus rift, essentially a personal device to achieve virtual reality. One gamer programmer said to me, “It allows people to go places they otherwise couldn’t go.”
This is true. A few days ago at the Zieher Smith & Horton Gallery in Chelsea, New York City (516 West 20th St), I tried it myself. The show called “Lossy” is by artist Rachel Rossin. It includes not only her paintings but also two oculus rift headsets that bring the wearer into another world—the painter’s creation of art. For some, this is more pleasant than others.
Painting by artist Rachel Rossin at the Zieher Smith & Horton Gallery in Chelsea, New York City.
The sensation for me was disorientation and a bit of disequilibrium. I had to hold onto the block that originally held the headset. This is ironic as one of the owners of the gallery told me, “There used to be blockades to keep viewers from the art. Now, oculus viewers have to hang onto a block.”
The author studying herself while experiencing the oculus rift.
This virtual reality has its upside. One is its use in education such as training surgeons to operate or employees in safety techniques. Another is a personal application such as broadening individual experiences with virtual rather than real involvement. It also has a downside. Vertigo, motion sickness and nausea can result. Vomiting has also been known to occur.
So, though the rift may prove to be a good thing overall, it also thrusts us more into a society where we are isolated. And, for some, even makes them sick.
The gallery show runs until Nov. 14 and gives visitors a chance to try this new device free of charge. The oculus rift itself is not slated to be available for sale until 2016. Its price will range from $350 on up dependent on its quality. Though monetary support for the original oculus research was raised through crowdfunding, the company was purchased by Facebook in 2014.