Session 2- Virtual Histories + Virtual Bodies


This session placed historical markers that helped us map significant developments in the evolution of virtual realities. It helped me understand a wider scope of VR and how it has revolutionised sectors including the world of gaming, communication and design. I also was able grasp the origins of Virtual realities which helped me understand the reasons to why people are so keen on developing VR.

The Origins Of Virtual Reality

Before technology was created humans would share stories with the use of fire and shadows to create a world which would allow them to feel like they were a part of a desired utopian environment. Without the use of any external technology, people would be able to picture themselves in different realities to the one we currently found ourselves in. This highlights the fact that we have always been people who have liked to picture ourselves being in desirable locations. These characteristics have slowly led people onto developing new ways to transform ourselves into different locations with the help of technology, without depending on the use of our imagination.

Virtual reality is a very powerful form of technology which allows us to achieve things that we may not be able to do so in our ordinary lives. It fools our senses into believing we are in a different location. This idea has intrigued people to push the boundaries of VR to create new innovative ideas.

Early Inventions

Before VR was invented Edwin link had invented the Link trainer also known as the “Blue Box” in 1929. This early flight stimulator was handy in military use. It was used by new pilots to teach them how to fly by instruments in a safe way.

Figure 1. Early link trainer

This early invention had no visual representation of a virtual world within this simulator, but the pilot would be enclosed in the cockpit and would be shut down from reality. It also accurately represented being in the cockpit of a plane. The simulator used artificial motion to create a realistic experience.

Link trainers were useful before and during the second world war. This itself was an early sign to show how handy stimulation could be. It would allow people to train within a ‘virtual reality’ without causing any damage until they were trained properly.

Rules Of Perspective

Before the ideas of an immersive experience, there were ‘virtual spatial images’ which formed the ‘media of illusion’. The illusionistic perspective of Andrea Pozzo’s trompe-l’oeil dome at Sant’Ignazio (1685), is a good example of this. Pozzo’s illusionistic dome is in fact painted on the flat ceiling, however when the observer stands in a specific position the painting appears to be a vaulted roof.

Figure 2. Andrea Pozzo, the trompe l’oeil dome in the Jesuit Church (1703), Vienna.


 Immersion and engagement are both part of a virtual reality experience. Artists such as Mike Nelson creates convincing worlds almost like a virtual world. His installations get his audience to question the space they’re in. Some of his installations are so immersive, you can no longer tell whether it is part of his work or not.

Figure 3. The Coral Reef (Nelson, 2000)