Imagining a world where one can be represented on a virtual platform and communicate in real-time with others sounds vague and mystic, but the 21st century promises more than that. Dire times of COVID-19 have made us stoop over online meets for communication. Though a reliable method in bringing clarity in professional interactions, its credibility for social exchanges, by and large, stands implausible. But what forms the true meaning of meets and communication?
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said”
Earlier, social interactions involved interpreting each others’ personalities and responding within the same environment. Understanding the tone and mood was supplementary to a good conversation. Contrary to this, digital communication lacks the lustre of talking vis-a-vis despite being advantageous at many levels. Rather than a room full of people, these have fostered communications that involve whispering into each other. The peculiarity of this new fabric of interaction hit hard at departures, which thrusts one into their immediate environments, with a stark realization of not being in the same room, like others.
Many technological advancements have tried to interpret real-life interaction and sought to build the same on platforms and interfaces of their own. The research has been used in video games to create immersive environments. For instance, Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games such as Fortnite have allowed the subscriber to build and participate as an avatar, enabling the user to experience physical simulations rather than staring at the screen slavishly. It is considered an entry port into the newly growing Metaverse -an immersive virtual world accessible through digital devices like computers, smartphones, or virtual reality headsets. Assisted with these external aids, one could be placed seamlessly inside an augmented reality. It enables interacting and even buying assets seamlessly and has made it synonymous with blockchains. Digital real estate forms the foundation of the metaverse wherein it gives creative freedom to the users to do whatever they want on these parcels. Based on blockchain technology, the products in this metaverse are authenticated by NFTs, an inherently unique token that enables digital artworks or designs to be bought, sold, and collected.
“We identify ourselves with this space, this place, this moment, and these dimensions become ingredients of our very existence.”
~ Juhani Pallasmaa
Space has always been perceived as a boundless entity that gets defined by human intervention and pre-existing natural elements, but its definition gets challenged by the vast online podium of infinite space medium, constructed purely through human imagination, ingenuity, and technology. This medium sans physical interaction enables a user to explore a world without moving an inch. It is well received because it is so good at transporting us into a dimension we can experience vicariously.
To experience and live in virtual reality, Krista Kim, a contemporary artist, designed a house on Mars that became the first NFT crypto-digital home to exist in the world. She rendered and stitched this futuristic abode using the software from Unreal Engine. This virtual house enhanced the immersive 3D experience by simulating various senses of the real, physical world, like adding a piece of music by Jeff Schroeder of the Smashing Pumpkins. The house was formulated as a 'light structure' with an open plan, featuring gorgeous views of Mars, glossy furniture, and lots of fiery orange tones. Kyoto’s architecture inspired the design of this crypto art home to create a therapeutic atmosphere merging the traditional art into a metaverse. The house concentrated on the core elements of light, colour, and sound to fabricate a digital Zen ambience. She sought the healing effects through the power of art and technology.
This medium helped her explore fictional locations and create a habitation with an atypical colourfully hued gradient.
Reckoned as a new way of life in the future, its ability to be stable and affirm with what forms the core of human civilization is questionable at its best. It has also caught the interest of business ventures who have used it creatively. Recent developments of private collaboration spaces by IBM and Intel reflects their belief in the tremendous potential for connecting a distributed workforce.
Different spheres of life have started to register their presence in a seemingly new world. A far-fetched reality not restricted by facilities, physical proximity has a resounding effect bringing more disparity between the have and have-nots considering its dependence on devices which could instigate isolation into masses of all social beings.
Explored possibilities like these have questioned the future and how it could be. The drawbacks of an ever-growing population probably would lead us to depend on augmented realities. What would communications then be?
Written by : Khushi Pednekar, Isha Keni, Laxaree sawant
“Metaverse Quotes” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/metaverse
What is a metaverse?” 30 July 2021 https://republic.co/blog/real-estate/what-is-a-metaverse
Anukriti, “Pros and cons of virtual and augmented learning experiences”, 25 July 2020
Chris Collins, “Looking to the Future: Higher Education in the Metaverse” 2008 http://www.uh.cu/static/documents/RDA/Looking%20to%20the%20future.pdf
Elizabeth Lopatto, “An actual house is an NFT now”, 16 April 2021
Kelly Corbett and Jada Jackson, “The World's First NFT Digital House Is Now Open to the Public”. 8 June 2021