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Screening | A Cinematic History of Virtual Reality

  • Museum of Art & Design 2 Columbus Cir New York, NY, 10019 United States (map)

"A movie that gives one sight and sound [...] taste, smell, and touch. [...] You are in the story, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it."
– Pygmalion’s Spectacles 1935

Cinema wants to become real - a new reality potentially more interesting than the one we inhabit. The dream of a consummate virtual reality simulation has obsessed science fiction writers and filmmakers for decades: aspiring toward high resolution, multi-sensory immersion, projected inside of a head-mounted display or directly plugged into the nervous system.

Cinema invented the virtual. The concept of VR was popularized and explored in science fiction films: from Welt am Draht [World on Wire] (1973) to eXistenz (1999) and Inception (2010). These stories serve as cautionary tales: anticipating the perceptual side-effects of hijacking human perception, and the problematic paradox of a simulation seemingly more real than reality itself.  

The screening follows a chronology of virtual reality in cinema from 1935-2015, pairing excerpts from science fiction movies, corporate research and product demos.

Later Event: November 1
Workshop | Camera of the Future