It’s an opening, but it also severs the link: there’s no more cinema. Cinema has its own world. When you make cinema, it’s really dictatorial. You force the audience where to look, you place a frame for people to look through. Although people think VR is immersive, cinema can possess you more, it makes you become. VR gives back this freedom to look. So, what’s left for the director? My work in Japan is wireless—you can walk wherever you want, and you see the other audience members as dots of light. Your perspective is not led by anyone. It’s all about what is happening in which part of the space. The director becomes more like a set designer, and you can visit the set.
AW: First, the Japanese producer sent me the headset. I was so excited about the possibilities, I was sure that this technology would change cinema. But once I started working with it, I thought, “Okay, this is not going to change cinema, this is something else.” It’s moving image, but it belongs to a different category that is more like theatre. I think in the future it’s going to be more relevant than cinema, though, in terms of how it can be applied to our daily life. The day there’s no more cinema, life will continue, whereas once VR has developed to a certain point, there’ll be chaos if suddenly there is no more VR.
It is important to consider these questions deeply, as they point to some of the potentially problematic side effects of theorising the relational. Theory does have the ability to contextualise and empower contemporary actions, but equally bears the potential of stiffening and institutionalising social relationships. And, as Swastika pointed out, it is necessary to question contexts, especially when uneven dynamics of power, access and representation might be in play.
The accessibility of video game engines, combined with their core ability of simulating worlds, systems and rules, has cultivated a broader potential beyond entertainment products. Many of the resilient economic solidarity models we have researched at New Design Congress depend at least in part on game engines as a key component for social organising, presentation, education or value. More broadly, game engines have found application in a surprising range of disciplines, including architecture visualisation, cultural archival efforts, visual arts, urban planning and traffic simulation, education and vocational training, academia, pilot training, medical research and transportation.