What a Trip: Virtual Reality

In a virtual setting, fabricated renditions of what was, what is, or could be strikes me as odd.  How could one render a true experience, the time, the era, the social understandings of the culture and space of an area in the 21st century?  For the purposes of research and understanding the past, virtual realities seem to understand the complexities of its own creation.  A simulation could never capture the authenticity, live, in-the-moment experience; however, it does not deserve to be discounted. How could we truly know what it was like to walk in ancient Rome?  The scents, the energy–scientific or not–all of the feelings you experience in the moment do not truly translate.

Take a moment, as I have, to sit, think, imagine yourself in front of your computer—as we usually are—recreating ancient Greece and experiencing it from your screen; that is mind-boggling.  B.C. was an oral era.  What we know  from it stems from  surviving texts, images, artefacts that narrate the story of its past.  As I write this I freak myself out more and more so I will put it to stop that.  What a trip.

The research and articles published here at UCLA from Lisa M. Synder and Diane Favro illustrate beautifully the “challenges encountered harnessing digital technologies to investigate kinetic issues” (Favro).  I appreciated the articles more for the transparency and language employed.  The purpose of recreating a digital space in a different time, and environment, is extremely challenging, almost impossible.  Thanks to our advanced technology, passionate, intelligent scholars and  the ever changing and growing discipline, we are able to explore and inform spaces from the past to other generations.  They state the challenges and they “walk” us through their processes.  I found it compelling to hear their humility for the discipline and really respect the textual research already founded, which they build off of.  The article reminded me of our very own final project: documenting the process from beginning to end, evaluating data, tools, methodologies, our own limitations and expertise, scope, time, etc.  It was interesting to see how complex the founding of Digital Humanities was here at UCLA: “Two decades” (Favro).  Additionally, the evolution and how the discipline is tapping into new fields such as, 3D modeling, and incorporating multidisciplinary perspectives, more so than before.  The digital era we are a part of is quite unmatched.  It feels as if it is the best of times by really having access to ALL times.  Wow, that is weird.  What will be next?

3D modeling is completely foreign to me; I do not understand it, which is why these articles were challenging for me to really grasp.  I expect to learn a lot more at today’s walkthrough the virtual portal on campus.