Digital Media: Virtually Real – Really Virtual

On Monday 27th January, I had another day of lectures surrounding my Digital Media module. To start off the day, I attended a lecture entitled Virtually Real – Really Virtual, before heading off to a Hybrid Forms seminar. After this seminar, we then had a Dreamweaver/Interface Design workshop, followed by Tutorials discussing our ideas surrounding our creative task. All of the notes from today can be found below:


  • New media forms – we think about once physical media objects like books or newspapers being superseded by digital artefacts or versions or old media forms – like film and television – being distributed via new platforms such as smart phones and laptops
  • Convergence
    • But it’s a word that has fallen out of fashion – mainly because convergence has pretty much happened
    • Media integration is here and almost everything we consume (and contribute to) happens in an online environment

What is a virtual world?

  • Kinect (Project Natal) Milo: Virtual Human Xbox 360
  • Amazing 3D Immersion technology

<p><a href=”″>Amazing 3D immersion technology</a> from <a href=””>IDEO Labs</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

  • The Third and the Seventh

<p><a href=”″>The Third & The Seventh</a> from <a href=”″>Alex Roman</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

  • CAVE UT, and Kinect are examples of new, interactive, immersion technologies that may eventually emulate Star Trek’s holodeck
  • These environments can be used in various capacities; to entertain us when we’re exercising, or to help us learn new skills
  • Running Around the World with Virtual Active
  • Flight Simulators – A Safer Way to Test – NASA Aeronautics Design Tech
  • One of the most immersive environments you could be in is flight simulators
  • But we know we’re not really there. We know the difference between reality and virtuality. Well, apparently not
  • Our ability to suspend our disbelief and become immersed in a fantasy environment seems to be hard wired in our brains and this ability has some interesting outcomes
  • Treating “Phantom Limb Pain” with mirror therapy
  • It’s clear why the guy in the video wants to be tricked by mirror therapy
  • But even when we’re healthy we WANT to be tricked. We WANT to be transported
  • Often to the places where guys get their limbs blown off in the first place
  • Battlefield 3 Fault Line Episode 1: Bad Part of Town

The Thirst for Illusion:

  • Oliver Grau, (Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion) says that these “immersive” techniques have been utilised by artists throughout history to create the environment for worship and ritual
  • Grau’s work is comparative and examines how virtual art fits into the art history of illusion and realism
  • He does this by tracing the history of the image through to the present day and examining how the immersive techniques of the ancients continue to impact on the aesthetics of New Media
  • The examples of Trompe l’oeil also illustrate our love of being ‘tricked’ – we like to blur the edges of reality, it appeals to something fundamental and aesthetic
  • The earliest artists were also concerned with creating illusions, and fantasies – just as image makers and game creators and movie makers are today
  • Look at Inception or Avatar for example –  twitter posts after Avatar came out suggested people felt depressed that Pandora didn’t exist – there was even a forum on the film’s website where people were supporting one another through their post-Pandora crises
  • Consider Robbie Cooper’s work
    • Cooper (in an accompanying production video) says his intention is to capture the truthfulness of the human expression as they are experiencing immersive environments
    • Immersion
  • “We are more inclined to think a photograph is an accurate representation than a painting or a sculpture, the former of course having the advantage of immediacy and spontaneity so the ‘artist’s touch’ can be more easily hidden” 

But here’s the question: Does the making of a representation immediately move it into the realm of the virtual? And is virtual then immediately ‘almost’ truth’ and ‘almost real’?

  • In a way you can say that any image or representation is a fantasy even if the image is of something prosaic or everyday – even if it is true
  • The mere fact that it isn’t real – or that that moment no longer exists in real time but is still able to be viewed without being real gives it (or the subject matter) an existence in virtual time and space
  • Grau goes further and argues that the aesthetic preconcepts of virtual art are traceable and seamlessly connected to the present incarnation of New Media with its
  • “Real time computation, sensorial interactivity, relational databases, distributed networks, knowledge engineering, artificial intelligence, telepresence and artificial life functionality” Joel Slayton
  • If we replace the words virtual, digital and immersion with illusion then maybe we can get a bit more of a handle on these techniques

Television Robert Capa In Love and War

  • Even the ‘true’ representations of photojournalism go through a process of choice of subject, setting up, developing, editorial veto etc. And only last week a celebrated war photographer had his work rejected because he had modified an image
  • Recent incarnations of ‘Digital Art‘ and the work of photographers concerned with the hyperreal are also an interesting addition to this virtual/illusory discussion
  • In a world where so much trickery is available to us, how can we distinguish what is reality and what is fantasy?
  • “Whose Vision is it? It is the vision of a computer, a cyborg, an automatic missile. It is the realistic representation of human vision in the future, when it will be augmented by computer graphics and cleansed from noise. It is the vision of a digital grid. Synthetic computer generated imagery is not an inferior representation of our reality but a realistic representation of a different reality”Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media


My Response to the Lecture:

The aspect that I found interesting in this lecture was the Thirst for Illusion. I understand that we, as a human race, seem to want to be tricked, but it made me wonder as to when this trickery will stop. When will we be satisfied? When we are actually transported to a place to take part in an activity? There surely has to be some sort of limit, but I’m just interested as to what that limit will be. 

In regards to experiencing an alternate reality, I can also understand the human desire for this, but what I am struggling to understand is the popular virtualities that we desire. For example, Fifa, the popular video game, simply shows a virtual reality that could quite easily be recreated through some football fanatics and imagination. Call of Duty, on the other hand, includes a very glamorized example of a profession, which the majority of people wouldn’t even dream about participating in. Why do we choose to immerse ourselves into these particular games?

One of my theories, one very depressing theory, is that deep down in our self-conscious, we know that we would never be able to achieve the things that we achieve in the game and so we deliberately transport ourselves to these virtual environments to feel a small sense of achievement.  



  • B E A U T YRino Stefano Tagliafierro
    • A path of sighs through the emotions of life. A tribute to the art and her disarming beauty
    • A hybrid of classic paintings, animation, and music/audio – creates a very hypnotic piece
    • Would be quite appropriate for #picbod
    • It has a narrative behind it
    • Motivation
      • To truly appreciate the beauty of the emotion and expressions captured within the art works through the use of animation
      • To make art coma alive to appeal to a wider audience
  • Message
    • The beauty that is captured
    • As a photographer, this helps us to completely appreciate the lighting and the aesthetics
    • We have no idea whether this interpretation is the original story behind the paintings or if it has been adjusted
    • The sensuality is a key theme
    • There is an emphasis on the flesh

<p><a href=”″>B E A U T Y – dir. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro</a> from <a href=””>Rino Stefano Tagliafierro</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

  • Chuck Close
    • He incorporates a hybrid of different art forms to create one image – for example, acrylics, stencils, pulp, etc.
    • If we saw the original it would have more effect than the online versions
    • Also creates photo-realism paintings – almost tricks us a little bit as we are unsure whether it is a painting or a photograph
  • London Underground Tube Map
    • ‘Tube Map’ is a digital map version of the London Underground network system
    • It is an official licensed Tube map from Transport London and includes information from tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel site
    • Motivation
      • To help commuters and tourists to successfully make their way across London
      • Made by mxData Limited, it is used as a travel app and it is extremely helpful as understanding the London Underground can be complicated to work out
      • The traveler wants to know what the best route is and what time they will get to their chosen destination and this app enables them to do this without any struggle
      • With over 1.5 millions users, you definitely could consider it successful
  • Unlike the paper map or signs of the maps that travellers can use to determine their route, Tube Map also states the next departure times of the tubes
  • It features all stations that support Oyster PAYG services and can direct the user to the nearest station, so can be used before even being in London as a planning source
  • HitRECordJoseph Gordon-Levitt
    • Collaboration of film, animation, and audio
    • Whole purpose of the TV show is to get people to collaborate between different mediums
    • Mixture of art and entertainment
    • Collaboration and creativity is at the forefront of the company
  • Social Media ExperimentJake Vale
    • Hybrid of Google Maps (location settings) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allows Jake Vale to creep people out by talking to them about personal information that they don’t realize they put online
  • Pencil vs. CameraBen Heine
    • Collaboration between drawing and photographs
    • Almost looks as though it is a performance
    • He is both the artist and the photographer
    • Motivation behind this is simply art
    • Hybrid form of art


  • We link the style sheet so that we can use it on multiple pages
  • Div tags are basically containers
    • can nominate divs to do many different things and they are basically boxes you can use
  • Headers
    • <h1>
    • H1 is the largest
    • H3 is smaller
  • Paragraph
    • <p>
    • This is basic web content
  • Unordered lists
    • <ul>
    • Is probably the most complex thing you will do
    • Makes menus
  • Links
    • <li>
    • Can change in the bottom of the interface
  • Style sheet
    • Attached to the style sheet
    • All generated from Dreamweaver

Making a construction page:

  • Site – new site – change site name and choose the local site folder (make a new folder, and has to be empty) – save
  • Windows – files – brings up file section in bottom of interface
  • Right click on the site folder – new file – call it index.html
  • Double click on the new index html file
  • Rename it straight away – what you want to call the page
    • For example: Holly Constantine Photography (Under Construction)
  • Insert – layout objects – div tag – insert at insertion point – call class container – okay
  • Delete the text in the box
  • Insert – HTML – Text Objects – H1- change it to “Holly Constantine Photography (Under Construction)”
  • Go into split view – make sure that the cursor is outside the H1 tag – insert – HTML – Text Objects – Paragraph – write a little bio
  • Insert – HTML – Text Objects – Unordered lists
  • In the code, press enter after the open ul tag then choose insert – HTML – Text objects – List Item <li>
  • Write “Home” between the open and closed <li> tags
  • Go outside the <li> tags (next to them) – insert – HTML – Text objects – list item
    • Can do this for as many as we like
  • If you highlight something on the list on design, you can see properties down the bottom of the interface
    • Highlight the text you want to link – then go to the link box at the bottom – copy and paste the URL
  • Links to other pages that you have made in Dreamweaver – if it is in the same file, simply call the link the name of the file: index.html for example
  • Linking to your email is different

FTP – a type of protocol

  • Get our emails up that we originally got from vidahost
  • Find the section that says “FTP Details” on the email called “Hosting Account Welcome Email – Important, Please Read.”
  • Site – Mange sites – choose site that you are using – choose the edit button (pencil symbol) – go to the server menu on the left – choose the add button – change the server name “Holly Constantine Photography”– put the FTP hostname in the email in the FTP address section – place in username and password – test
  • Need to change the root directory to www
  • And change the web URL to whatever our website is… (remove the extra /www at the end) – press save then click okay
  • Go back to the main page and click “Connect to Remote Server” – found at the bottom right of the interface
  • Click “Expand to local and remote site” – brings up a separate window – click on the www file on the left hand side and the index.html file on the right hand side – click upload (the upward arrow) – yes
  • There’s lots of different ways to do the same thing in Dreamweaver and HTML