Seeking Virtuality:
A Search for a Working Definition of Virtuality in the Context of Interactive Cinema




Virtuality is often described by what it is not: “virtuality is not real,” “virtuality is not material; “virtuality is not the physical world,” etc. But it is counter-productive to constantly be defining a concept by what it is not, and thus there is a tremendous need amongst cybernetic theorists to come up with an accurate and useable definition for virtuality. A unifying definition that umbrellas all of virtuality’s possible meanings is perhaps unreasonable, however. Virtuality is probably something that is better defined within a certain context – such as virtuality within the realm of computer-mediated perception, virtual reality (VR), or hologram technology – because on one level, everything imagined and contained within the mind can be said to be virtual. For this reason, whenever one is dealing with an issue or concept around virtuality, I believe they must explicitly define the context and point-of-view from which it is to be discussed.

My particular research interests are in the realm of interactive cinema. The phrase interactive cinema is an intermediary term until a better description is established. Because of its ambiguous nature, I will devote a portion of this essay to describing my own particular research goals in interactivity and expanded cinema. Interactive cinema by any definition, however, is inextricably tied to concepts of virtuality, and so the purpose of this essay is to define virtuality within the context of interactive cinema.


There is a clear trend in art and technology towards interactive systems where images, sound, and even the projection surfaces change in response to conscious and subconscious user activity. There is potential here for a future branch of cinema – an interactive environment where multiple movie screens respond to your position, movements, speech, and body temperature...



Copyright © 2007 Adrian Jones