- Journal Details
- First Published
- 15 Dec 2013
- Publication timeframe
- 2 times per year
- Open Access
Introduction: Welcome to the Metaverse! (again?)
Page range: 198 - 200
- Open Access
An Archeology of the Metaverse: Virtual Worlds and Optical Devices
Page range: 202 - 212
The following article comes as a result of a Spanish Ministry R&D funded project entitled “Virtual Worlds in Early Cinema: Devices, Aesthetics and Audiences”. Our starting hypothesis is that some of the central ideas that define the metaverse’s virtual imaginary can be found in some of the visual devices and apparatuses from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. The article contextualizes and details how the desire for immersion, three-dimensional images, observation of replicas of our worlds, and living a non-narrative experience are contained in early optical devices such as magic lanterns, stereoscopic photography, panoramas, maréoramas or phantom rides. The main purpose is to illustrate that, despite the technological transformation, we ultimately are part of a long history where equivalences, parallelisms and returns arise between past and present times. The metaverse’s visual culture is no exception, and it gathers the imaginary of virtual worlds figured in some of the optical devices and visual spectacles of the past.
- Open Access
Really Have Nice Things? Preparing for the Metaverse
Page range: 214 - 223
Drawing from our previous experience of the virtual world Second Life, we engage in a critical reading of the hype and promotion of the Metaverse in Mark Zuckerberg’s 2021 Keynote Presentation (Meta 2021). We zoom in on the visions of the reality and of the future that big tech leaders promise to legitimize themselves as not only economically but socially and morally valuable. Presented with the help of three broad themes – connection, experiences, and creativity – the promises of a better future articulated in the descriptions and visions of the Metaverse are anchored in a deterministic narrative of technology as an enabler of individual choice and freedom. In this way, the commercial intent behind the world-building actions of a mighty economic actor becomes reframed as merely an expression of users own needs and dreams of a better future.
- Open Access
Gaming the System: Playbour, Production, Promotion, and the Metaverse
Page range: 224 - 233
As much as tech giants like Microsoft and Meta promote the metaverse as a new haven for social connection and enterprise, popular and academic presses credit the development of persistent virtual worlds that underlie the emerging space to digital gamemakers. This paper argues gaming’s centrality to the metaverse, upon which its hardware, controls, distribution platforms, economic models, and even socio-cultural attributes rely. Building on research into early adopters of virtual reality, it examines a “playbor production system” that solidifies hardware and software providers in both immersive media and the metaverse’s ecosystems by capitalizing on gamers’ and enthusiasts’ labor. The paper concludes that such models epitomize endemic concerns in the evolution of virtual worlds, economics, and technologies contingent upon imbalanced power structures between producers, providers, and consumers.
- Open Access
Flexibility, Flâneurie, and Affinity in the Metaverse
Page range: 235 - 251
Progress toward a revolutionary metaverse is currently underway, but it is being led by large tech companies, like Meta, who aim to build on their current platforms and extend their already exploitative internet products. These efforts dominate the conversation around what the metaverse can be and whether it can be conceived as a collection of viable as spaces designed for collaboration, agency, and empathy. Metaverse projects led by individual artists are small in scope but powerful as alternatives to mainstream efforts in their ability to effect change, making them important case studies for what is possible for the making of the metaverse. This article offers a working definition for the imagined metaverse and the current proto metaverse and shifts the focus away from mainstream tech products and toward individual artistic experiments to highlight the lesser-known experiments that are shaping the metaverse in meaningful ways. It discusses the metaverse as a form of escape and counters the idea that it is thus limited to a social space that defaults to phatic communication about important issues.
By drawing on theories of play and critically examining metaverse-based artworks that have a social mission, this article aims to show that, precisely because they are like computer games, metaverse projects are separate from but integrated with reality and allow imagination and experimentation to come together. Worlds created in the metaverse can be inspiring and resourceful sites for political activist ideas and knowledge-based understandings of the real world. Finally, it identifies three key attributes of the proto metaverse that allow for purposeful interaction and the possibility of knowledge acquisition. Four projects based in the proto metaverse are closely analyzed and evaluated against these observations to demonstrate examples of artistic practice grounded in the use of a kind of virtual flânerie – a reimagining of the cyberflâneur whose self-guided traversal through unknown digital territories is encouraged by curiosity and purpose – to experience, learn about, and feel inspired by the work’s overarching social activist message.
- Open Access
Using Cinematic Virtual Reality to Get Acquainted with the Metaverse
Page range: 252 - 271
This paper discusses the opportunities for using cinematic virtual reality (CVR) to enhance our understanding of the imagined metaverse – the recently emerged new digital age phenomenon. The paper approaches the concept of the metaverse from an interaction point of view, which is one of the more common characteristics used to conceptualise the metaverse, approaching it as a phenomenon involving the convergence of real and virtual worlds, but also humans and machines. The article investigates the possibilities of using the relatively unexplored phenomenon of CVR, which facilitates the desired interaction while requiring the least prior knowledge and skills from the user, and thus might ease our acquaintance with the imagined metaverse. The difference between virtual reality (VR) and CVR lies in the generation of the VR world: traditional VR is typically generated through 3D graphics processing and audio triggers in real time, whereas CVR exclusively uses pre-rendered pictures and sound elements. Thus, the main difference between the two lies in the textual content and intended way of consuming it without dissimilarity in technology. With reference to three drama genre cases, the aim of this paper is to explore one of the crucial components of CVR—namely, through the established convention of the viewer perspective in traditional cinema (first-person, second-person and third-person perspective).
- Open Access
Ecological Approach to Cinematographic Lighting of the Human Face – A Pilot Study
Page range: 274 - 291
One key aspect of cinematographic lighting – and lighting in general – is its direction and how the lighting illuminates people and other objects of attention. In a natural setting, the light reaching the target usually has at least some level of directionality instead of being just ambient overall light. In cinematography directionality is used, among other things, to enhance the lit object’s three-dimensionality in an otherwise two-dimensional medium by bringing out its shape and texture and separating it from the background. While lighting has typically been studied based on its physical qualities that render for quantitative measures, such as intensity or color spectrum, less is known about how cinematographic lighting gives rise to the spectator’s emotive-cognitive experiences. Overall, film lighting has been studied surprisingly little, although both practical and academic literature emphasize its important role in cinematic expression. This paper presents a pilot study that examines viewers’ emotional reactions to photographs of an expressionless human face under lighting from different directions. The initial results indicate that lighting that obscures, hides, or distorts facial features creates stronger emotional reactions in the viewer than lighting that reveals them, contributing to the scientific understanding of the audience’s reactions and the filmmaker’s creative decisions.