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Prof. Dr. S.V. Zagraevsky


Art and virtual reality



Published in Russian: . . , . 5. ., 2002.




The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.




Andrey Blagosklonov with which we together

he modeled the future of virtual reality




Universal computerization come true.

Perhaps, even in the remotest corners of the globe hard to find anyone who is not familiar with your computer at least by hearsay. In various branches of industry are developed and implemented automated control systems, computers are based on robots, communication systems, telecommunications and everything else that another ten or twenty years ago it was impossible to even imagine.

Will remind: in the early eighties there was no Internet, no personal computers, no cell phones, but now we are even "computer drivers" - anyway, recently in Germany, the computer ran specially converted "Mercedes" and saw the traffic situation using a number of sensors, "passed the exam for a driver's license...

Naturally, the process of General computerization could not touch the art.

Some critics he called euphoria - there are unprecedented opportunities of exhibitions on the Internet, computer design has become an independent kind of art and has risen in one number with painting and graphics, created on the basis of computer of a video installation took a firm place in expositions... If you remember that a computer is a large amount o%

But some art there, and polar opposite point of view. Indeed, in our time virtual (computer simulated reality cold, callous and dry - electronics are electronics. As a rule, "technogenic" nature of computer installations (traditional silver or "screaming" colors, sharp and angular contours, with the%B

Probably, the truth, as always, lies somewhere between these two polar points of view. "Computer art" exists, and not necessarily it's so very cold and "man-made". That is why instead of the generic concept of "computer design", we will use a narrower - "computer art".

I think it is not necessary to explain that not every piece of computer (and any other) design is a work of art. Cannot be called a work of art brand cleaner, you can not call them and website type "", although over the same time, and worked on other highly skilled designers. The boundary between design and art, as well as between the types of buildings and architectural masterpiece, of course, is blurred. But that is what the critics to it with any degree of accuracy to determine.

And in respect of "computer art" there are modern methods of assessment, which fit perfectly in the classic art history. Generally speaking, there are two ways of perception and, accordingly, the estimates are:

The first is traditional when the monitor (or any other device of the computer display information is represented as a display area for viewing of a work of art - paintings, drawings or executed on the same computer. In the latter case, a work of art, created by computer, is actually equivalent to the so-called "industrial graphics and evaluated accordingly.

The second is "conceptual", when seen on the monitor is not seen as an exhibition area, and as an exhibition space.

The exhibition area and space are not the same, while in use, these terms are often confused by measuring the space in square meters. But actually display area - square meters of wall or floor, where you can hang a picture or put sculpture, and nothing more. And space is at least room, and the maximum - all the exposure (and even the entire Museum). On the whole.

Space, in turn, can be arranged by the gallery to the principle, when the overall impression from the works of many artists. And can belong and common conceptual plan - for example, an empty room, where in the corner stacked multi-colored candy or cans of Coca-Cola. Typical conceptual design space is famous pop-art panel "F-19" James Rosenquist, occupying an entire room.

But in fact the same effect (and much more powerful) produces in the Tretyakov gallery and the appearance of Christ to the people", although at the time of Alexander Ivanov conceptualism no one heard. Moreover, in the design of exhibition space have been and are recognized by their masters (br whipper, mV Ivanov, ng Divov, and others), and about them, too, we can say that they are using traditional art sought and seek a "conceptual" effect.

Therefore, with the advent of "computer art" art criticism appeared before the problem is not new. All this was "covered", and in a more acute form, back in the sixties of the twentieth century, when the question of the coexistence of traditional art forms and the so-called "postmodernism".

While a lot has been said about the death of art, and the transformation of the latter in any other phenomenon. But in reality all these "brave" conclusions turned out to be nothing more than another shocking attempt to "throw Pushkin to ship today. And abstractionism, and constructivism, and conceptualism, and many other "isms" at its best was the same organic continuation of the traditions of genuine art, such as impressionism in relation to Delacroix and Ingres. And it is no coincidence that, although the concept of "traditional art" and "postmodernism" is rather ambiguous, contemporary art critics got used to them and quite freely use them, without going to extremes and not hanging on the whole direction shortcuts "luiscast".

Hence, computer simulation of space using three-dimensional graphics (realized even in standard programs "AutoCad" or "ArchiCad"), may well be judged on artistic criteria developed back in the sixties.

Thus, the universal computerization, taking place in our time, no fundamental adjustments in either art or art history is not made. We can speak only about the appearance of the new artistic material - computer.

Stainless steel, plastic, concrete, acrylic paint, computer... This chain stretching from the twenties of the twentieth century, may be continued and "back" (the invention of oil paint, tempera and watercolour), and "forward" - new materials appear constantly. These cans of Coca-Cola can also be described as a new artistic material.




But the question arises. The level of computerization made to date, can be called universal, but it cannot be called global.

Indeed, while the majority of people in contact with the computer "because". Some are faced with it, working in offices and production, many use it as a typewriter, many leisure activities for the three-dimensional games with the incredibly advanced graphics... the Internet for some is useful in professional activity, for some medium of communication for some fun...

Of course, a computerized global call early. But the pace of development of computers and their implementation in a variety of human activity suggests that the wait is not too long.

Now, the question is - what will happen to art and art history in a global computerization?

And in order to answer this question, we need at least some understanding of what global computerization. Ten years ago, it's not that same - it was impossible to imagine, but now we can try to understand this is with no small degree of confidence that something like this would look like.

First, you need to focus on some technical details, especially in the so-called "virtual costume.

What is a computer monitor, imagine each. What happens if the monitor is inserted in closed helmet, too, one can imagine the impression of being present in virtual reality.

How to simulate virtual reality so that it almost differed from reality "real," for professional programmers, the issue is purely technical and is associated exclusively with the performance of the computer that is connected to this "virtual helmet". Even at the present level of computer equipment loosely modeled walk through the forest or drive a racing car, and the degree of approximation to reality is very great.

However, it is now possible authentic simulation of only one forest tracks, or a racing track is no longer allows the performance of computers. But already developed technology allows to increase and the speed of the processor, and memory in hundreds, if not thousands of times, and in the coming years, undoubtedly, they will be introduced into mass production.

Consequently, the development of virtual reality can be safely regarded as a virtually unlimited.

But from the "virtual helmet" one step up "virtual costume, with the help of sensors transmitting to a computer, any movement and thus simulating a walk in the woods or a trip by car with complete certainty. And if to take into account what has already been developed, incorporated in the "costume" imitators wind, cold, heat, contact with objects, etc., the creation of a full-scale virtual reality - not science fiction, utopia and reality of tomorrow.

And with the advent of programs that simulate Moscow, Berlin or Sydney, you can make walking in these cities, without taking a "virtual suit (that is, not from home). And not only walks - go to virtual museums, virtual home...

And let our time "virtual suit most people perceived as yet another computer game. But, wandering through the virtual city, enter the virtual houses, brings us to an important practical application of "virtual reality" - communication.

Who will be populated by "virtual reality"? Is it just impersonal "computer doubles, albeit with very advanced "artificial intelligence"?

No, it will be completely populated by normal people and be used for communication as well as we now use the phone and Internet. Actually, this is its main purpose.

Those who worked in the Internet, knows that today the main problem is weak and unreliable communication lines. Even so-called "leased lines" of modern fiber optics do not give the opportunity to consistently look in "online" full-screen movies. And what to say about ordinary telephone lines, dial-up via telephone with the technique of fifty years ago? Even text files in a few hundred kilobytes, is for several minutes...

But everything said about fantastically rapid development of computers fully applies to communication lines. "Internet telephony" has already become publicly available, not much time left to wait for "Internet video", and full-scale Internet-reality - it quite near future.

Now imagine that the development of communication lines allows you to transfer the amount of information, allowing to model the reality not only in "virtual costume, directly connected to the computer, but in the same "costume" of a person on the other end of the city (country, continent of the globe and connects via the Internet channel.

What will prevent the leading computer firms to simulate a single virtual reality and give users the opportunity to meet each other and talk while in the virtual office or stroll through the virtual forest? Should I explain that in fact, the users won't be leaving the house?

And what will prevent model (using a set of standard programs - something like a "designer") own virtual house and to receive visitors there - those who are connected to this "home" on the Internet channel?

And what will prevent guests at these "virtual visits" to simulate their appearance as they want it - for example, selecting virtual coats, virtual hairstyles and even virtual figures and faces?

In any case, in theory (and in the near future and technically) possible.

And if to consider, that in such a virtual communication is a tremendous savings of time and money, it is possible not only theoretically but also practically.

Plus unlimited opportunity to make acquaintance. Plus, no complexes about any defects in appearance or speech - all this in the formation of the virtual image is easily correctable. Plus no need to invest a lot of money in the decoration of the "real" home and office - guests in virtual reality can be taken in the masterpieces of design, created in any style, from classic to ultramodern...

And, of course, virtual reality provides a huge leap in efficiency of any business, whether or trade in oil paintings for sale. Hardly people near future will refuse such an opportunity.

Naturally, there are privacy issues - and the personal contacts and conducting business. But you can eavesdrop on a normal conversation, and in the "Network" (so in the future I propose to call "the Internet of the future") means of information protection, undoubtedly, will be given more attention than now. And in our time using the Internet and the banks, and credit ka%D

This refers to the identification of those who communicate with you in the Network. All these methods exist and work, and nothing new to invent it is not necessary. Try to impersonate someone else offender can in our time, and much more successfully than in the "virtual" future. To check the authenticity of paper certificates much more difficult than running a computer program to identify who is currently talking to you in the "Network".

The question of accessibility of virtual reality. Considering the tendency of constant cheapening of computer equipment (in the late eighties of the twentieth century, the cost of a personal computer PC at" exceeded the market value of the new "Volga"), we can confidently say, virtual reality ("virtual suit, the computer, software, and effective communication line) will be available for almost everyone. Anyway, for people who slip something active social life.

Such computerization can already be rightfully called global.




So what awaits the art in the global computerization?

Let's see: the computer ceases to be exotic and becomes a tool of communication, virtual reality becomes a routine... And all.

No fundamental changes in the psyche, especially in the consciousness of people not expected, it is unlikely that anything will change in the external life style - for a small (in the scope of history) time left before the global computerization, these processes simply do not have time to become visible.

On the contrary - "man-made" a form of computer-based homes, undoubtedly, will cause nostalgia for the pre-computer "old days". And since everyone will have the opportunity to decorate your virtual house what you want, then the true art will be put to much more accessible.

In addition, the Network provides tremendous opportunities for private%

Unfortunately, the same great possibilities will have and promotion of vulgarity and violence propaganda, and propaganda of mediocre works created more often than masterpieces... But in any person no one can take away the freedom of choice, and the task of the art in these conditions significantly expanded.

I suggest to replace the word "propaganda", which has several negative connotation, the word "education" - so it should look like the art of the near future, receiving through the Network unlimited potential opportunities for penetration in the minds and hearts of millions of people.

The question of the future of the art market. And there are no negative changes are not expected. Will private collectors and museums, and each of them will have its own virtual gallery where anyone who wants to decorate your home painting (or any designer, performing the appropriate order) will be able to buy a picture - in both virtual and in this form. First, of course, will be cheaper than the second.

Just "steal" (unauthorized copy) the file, as is often done on the Internet, in the "Network" will be hardly possible - copyright protection in conditions of virtual reality acquires exceptional importance due to technical availability of any work of art, be it a book or a painting. Undoubtedly, there will be some secret codes - watermark (for example, image processing program "Photoshop" allows to create them today), and it can be effectively track the "stolen".

Naturally, will be lucky and crackers, hackers, and will be "loud" theft - but this "good" enough in our time. On the issue of security of information we have said. In a serious statement of cryptographic protection hack site Louvre no easier than to climb itself in the Louvre, and the consequences of breaking of site, as a rule, less catastrophic.

All the above refers to the traditional art. And as conceptual art, then it will get unlimited opportunities to model can be anything you want) and virtual reality will win. Why, for example, do not invite viewers to "walk" through a virtual gallery, made in the form of stairs leading into the sky? Or on the contrary -"% DSymbolic and effective social protest against what some current problems of insufficient financing of the state museums...

Perhaps, the only future is a fundamental change in art and art criticism is that today's computer functions as an exhibition space (viewing works outside the exhibition context) would yield a computer simulation of the exhibition space.

And with a product outside the exhibition space (just on white or black background) will meet in a special "branch" of any of the virtual Museum (at any time there may be reproduced in any painting or sculpture).

If we are talking about modern art, the paintings can be seen in the virtual Studio of the artist. Any artist working in traditional techniques, should be able to "digitize" (to shoot and scan his work and put them in his virtual Studio, open to the public.

Of course, "should" and "will" is not the same, but the presence of the artist's workshop in public "Network" is much more possible than a separate Studio in reality. Consequently, there can be made a major step in solving the most important social tasks - the protection of artists.

You can touch and the role of trade unions of artists - in addition to the already existing functions of social and legal protection, they can assume the function of distributing software for virtual studios.

The fact that manufacturers of equipment for the Network most likely will act on the basis of today's manufacturers of mass cameras: get the equipment almost for free, but the rest of my life to spend serious money on consumables. The same pricing policy in modern Internet service providers, and the owners of mobile communication systems.

Therefore, it is likely to attract people to Network hardware (virtual clothes", and so on) will be very expensive (perhaps sometimes in the advertising purposes even given away free of charge), but the software will be quite expensive. This is justified by the complexity of the past - just try to simulate, for example, the city of Moscow with all Wloc the%B

But a computer program "Moscow" will benefit millions of people, therefore, for each it would be relatively inexpensive. It is the same with the program "Workshop of the artist" - it too will enjoy a very, very many, so it (possibly free) distribution is exactly the case for the unions of artists.

But the model customized Villa in the Bahamas is really going to cost a lot of money, and it is unlikely many people, especially artists, even in the future will be able to afford it. But to sell his paintings and sculptures to those who ordered these villas and models - the problem is absolutely feasible.




In all his art, theological and philosophical studies, I usually use a principle which can be called a "roll absurd." Let me explain: in order to understand the correctness or incorrectness of any idea, it must be carried to its logical limit, and the parish in this case it is absurd major "indicator" errors.

Let's try to bring to the logical limit our vision of global computerization and see what happens to art in this case. We shall come to an absurd or not?

I propose to call this the "marginal" computerization "global virtualization.

In fact, the question arises: why pragmatic and far from romantic person (as such in any society was, is and will be the majority) are generally leave the house, if you have a computer, "virtual suit and communication line with unlimited bandwidth?

To go to work in the office? Why, if all meetings can be conducted in virtual spaces%

To work? But of course, that in parallel with the global computerization will take place as a global robotics, so in a logical limit physical visits to workshops will be minimal - robots can be controlled and "Network".

Walk in this forest? Yes, if "virtual suit not predostavit as healthy alternatives. But most likely, with the development of a "Network" will be created "virtual costumes" artificial "burdening" movements that can simulate the most energetic jog with its full display in virtual reality. Plus conditioning, plus a multiple reduction of harmful emissions from transport - because people due to the "Network" almost cease to ride...

If you really reach full logical limit, even sex can be quite fully carry out the distance with the help of a computer simulation of the whole range of sensations. This is especially true for non-family people at risk of Contracting many diseases.

Even elementary flu and other diseases transmitted by airborne droplets, depart in the past - in a logical limit, even food in the home can bring robots, controlled by the same "Network". They can and have the necessary medical care (except for cases requiring hospitalization). In any case, I personally would be better trust your health to computer robot than the low-skilled, and even half-drunken doctor of the ambulance...

While almost completely preserved, and the role of money and other economic, political and social mechanisms. Remains and material incentives of people - as we said, the software specially made for individual projects, cost, cost, and will cost dearly.

Since we're trying to build a utopia, to address what they say the authors of all dystopia - opportunities "network" dictatorship and gradual "brainwashing" of people until turning them (again, in a logical limit) into something that is represented in the famous film "the Matrix". I remind the basis of the plot: with the help of a supercomputer in human brains mod is

Theoretically, perhaps, is possible. But let's not forget that the "Network" just and strong abundance of alternatives, and to block access to unauthorized information is more difficult than to stop "hostile" radio - as we remember, the last was "popular" in the years of Soviet power.

Consequently, people simply no one will forget that they are not virtual, but real, and that is to remove the virtual suit and all. If you want to go out in the real forest, enjoy a rustle of leaves, breathe fresh air, but don't forget that tomorrow - at work, in the "Network"...

And set the "grid" (for example, state) without the dictatorship of the "network" would be altogether impossible. To deal with such a powerful information field as a "Network"is not a force any state. Note that multipolarity "Network" (for example, delivery of "virtual costumes" by different companies) is the best cure against the "network" dictatorship and any abuses at the hardware level. A program written, write and will write millions of people, and the pursuit of unlimited power of one is always balanced by a desire for her other...

From all this it follows that our logical limit the development of a "Network", as a minimum, consistent, and we can investigate the problem of art on the background of a global virtualization.




The question immediately arises: do not die out if classical artistic techniques and materials (canvas, oil, watercolor, bronze, fire clay, and others), if each artist will be able to create images directly in virtual reality?

In favor of this assumption says that nowadays actively developed and will soon set up the system "indefinite storage of information, based on space technologies. Therefore, it is not necessary to have original paintings on canvas, exposed to extremes of temperature, gracilariales, dust and other troubles is enough to create the%B

With regard to different types and the perception of the painting as "virtual" and "real" hardware, but let's not forget that we are talking about the logical limit of computerization - global virtualization.

Certainly, the "virtual suit will allow you to mix the virtual paint, to apply them on a virtual canvas, ready to put a virtual picture in a virtual frame and hang on the virtual wall in the virtual Studio, and then from there to shoot and transfer in virtual Museum or completely not virtual buyer. Needless to say, that there are unprecedented technical possibilities of work in the film - editing, corrections, appending, fixing milestones and other things?

All this fully applies to graphic art and sculpture, decorative and applied art, as in "computer art" such opportunities exist today.

A virtualization monumental art will decorate virtual city virtual sites that, unlike today, it will be easy to modify, move, and even dismantle in cases of public protest. And they absolutely do not necessarily destroy, erasing files - let "stand" in public virtual museums, pass the test of time, and then they can be and return to the place...

As for the virtual architecture, all the above applies to it. Hardly person, most of the time conducting in virtual reality, will want to spend money on some special dishes about his "real" home is not better to spend it in the "Network" much less money and to get a much better result? And if you invest thousands and millions of "conditional units" in the "real" home, then who will see it, if almost all communication will be done in the "Network"? Robot bringing food?..

And virtual architecture can be changed, rebuild, modernize, in a fit of anger or social protest destroy (of course, if it does not violate any proprietary rights), and then from the principle or at the behest of the romantic heart to build a virtual shack...

In short, in a virtual reality computer technology provides any Creator of a truly huge (almost unlimited possibilities. It is very likely that the creative process is indeed fully in virtual reality, nothing while not losing in terms of artistic expression traditional techniques.

But art is not only a technique. This vision of the world, and individuality, and inspiration, and a "neratsionaliziruemy balance", and "the thing in itself, and much more. It all depends on the material and the technology does not directly (sometimes not at all dependent), and in any case does not fit into the dry designation of paint per square centimeter, or the chemical composition of bronze. We have already talked about this in connection with such "artistic material as banks, "Coca-Cola".

So you have to disappoint "progressives"talk of the death of art and art history. Neither one nor the other will not die even in conditions of "global virtual"brought to its logical limit. On the contrary - will become the new technical possibilities, new forms of artistic expression, new ways of penetration into the hearts of the people and the new value in public life - far more than in our time.

Nature, as they say, do not be fooled. We have already talked about the fact that human psychology changes for centuries, if not millennia, and global computerization - the case decades.

Consequently, it is unlikely people near future will be man-made monster, on the contrary, his desire for warmth and beauty of the increase. No painting, no sculpture, without home comfort "virtual" life would be unbearable. Try to imagine yourself in a comfortable, practical, reliable, best virtual reality and understand: without making her usual hours%

Undoubtedly (and unfortunately), in the "Network" will be opportunities for splashing out any aggressive tendencies. Undoubtedly, will be modeled and war of all times and peoples, and virtual sadomasochistic dens, and imitation drugs, and virtual alcohol...

But if not all of the people until they can't, then let it all be better virtual than Rea

In addition, we always play in a virtual war. And you can not ever smoke virtual opium, causing a "virtual costume" take you in the virtual skies. Do not ever ride on a virtual roller coaster. Time and energy are released in people in conditions of global computerization, they may have to spend not only on entertainment and bad habits, but also to education and professional development, and, of course, art.

And here raising the role art plays a significant role. Will they be able to lead people out of the virtual disco in virtual Louvre, the virtual Tretyakov gallery, a virtual "Central House of the artist"? Whether they are from childhood to teach people artistic taste, taking advantage of unlimited information Network capabilities? Or people its intuitive attraction for art will be, the masses buying virtual painting scenery with redraws Shishkin pine trees?..

The circle has closed. We came to the same problems faced by the modern and the arts.

And this suggests that even in conditions of global virtualization in art is fundamentally not changed practically nothing. Will and his Kabakov, will their Shilov...

Thus, the computer is a tool. Not more. The tool he was, is and will be, despite the extensive penetration into all spheres of life.

And art is one of the spiritual foundations of people's life, and it it was, is and will be, in spite of universal computerization or the "global virtualization. "Vita brevis, ars longa" - "Life is short, art is long." We'll say more: art is not "long", but forever.


Moscow, 2002.


  Sergey Zagraevsky


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