Week 6 Response/MIDTERM

Cyberhead: Virtual Reality

Part of my essay:

“Cyberhead: Am I really existing?” was created by Patrice Caire, who had

collaborated with researchers residing in the MRS and Lucas Center at Stanford

Research Institute. (1) Patrice Caire has a Masters in Computer Science from New York University and is a researcher in robotics, intelligence systems, and virtual reality technologies. (2) “Cyberhead” is a virtual reality project which was created in order to encourage questions such as, “What is the relationship between the individual’s biological existence and the individual’s thoughts” or “How do you interpret and associate the information you receive from your environment?” Caire’s “Cyberhead” is one of the first virtual reality art pieces to gain museum exhibit space and was first installed at the Yerba Buena Center for the arts, San Francisco in 1994. (1) The show was named the “Futurist Pavillion of the Uniforum,” and was presented by the tech company, Sense8. (1) “Cyberhead” was developed in the virtual reality laboratory and the Artificial Intelligence Center of SRI international with the following principal collaborators: Harlyn Baker, Nat Bletter, Aron Bonar, Tamar Cohen, Gina Faber, Mark Ferneau, Paul Hemler, Lee Iverson, Andy Kopra, Lance Norskog, Tom Piantanida, Marc Scaparro, and Pierre Vasseur. (1) The virtual reality project is displayed within a public exhibition inside of a museum, which required heavy equipment and attendants in order to guide people through the presentation. When entering the exhibit, the user looks through a binocular-like machine connected with handlebars for the user to steer through the virtual space. One button on the handlebar signaled to go forward, while the other, backwards. By pressing both of the buttons at the same time, the user is able to restart the simulation. Inside the five-minute virtual reality simulation, there are three areas where the user could fly freely. The three rooms include the initial room, the eyeball, and the brain space. Patrice Caire had made full body MRI scans and had her head placed in virtual reality for the user to travel within. This coincides with the question referring to the biological self and one’s own thoughts. Caire noted, “The less we had to teach people, the more freedom they would have to act intuitively.” (1) This quote is related to her decision to allow free flight within those spaces, though she still lures the users through a guided path. As the user flies through the head of Patrice Caire, it leads people to perceive information or data, which is not easily represented. This allows for questions regarding perception of oneself and the interpretation of one’s surroundings.

-David Wang


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