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Switch On Virtual Reality
Switch Staffs on Sep 1 1995 issue 02

Virtual Reality

SWITCH On Virtual Reality

Welcome to our second issue of Switch. This time we focus on Virtual Reality, with its seductive promise of three-dimensional immersive environments. The desire for multiple convincing worlds available at a command comes from an imagination desiring to escape the limits of the everyday world. We want to explore a simulated fantasyland and replace for a time the difficult one we know. Two interviews, Jason Challas speaking with Brenda Laurel, and Loretta L. Lange with Linda Jacobson, both touch on the issue of identity in VR, theorizing whether one can escape entirely into another existence. If VR were to reach its full potential, then one could "become" someone of the opposite sex, of an altered gender, or of another race. Each of them considers whether this would alter our consciousness or our political perceptions. The film industry has the highest need for depicting alternate realities, transporting the viewer into the realm of the "Other." Asil takes a look at several films that picture our world re-shaped by computer VR technology. All of these issues depend on the performance of actual VR clothing, such as goggles and gloves. P.D. Quick examines the current state of VR-ware in evidence at SIGGRAPH '95 this past August. His research challenges the prevailing conception that fully accessible VR lies just around the corner. Our new Project Page, under construction, will offer a VRML viewpoint for this issue, with information on vrml browsers. The estimated completion date is November 15, 1995. Before you leave our site, check out our calendar section edited by Erika Ismerio, with a full listing of events, exhibitions and competitions. We have also added a new page of links to places we've found concerning VR, our Switch Gateway. Let us know if you have comments, additions, or corrections to our published information. You can reach us at

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