From Virtual Corporeality to Nano-spectacles

Interview with Mirko Stojkovic dramaturg, video game developer and university teacher about monomyths, nano-spectacles and avatars.

At last years IETM meeting you mentioned that one of the biggest problems of the virtual world is in its lacking emotions. Do you see any way in which we could combat that? It has been said that art can enter this sphere when freedom steps in. Do you know any examples of this?

I was completely wrong. The problem with virtual reality is not a lack of true emotions, but it’s abundance of false ones. A few weeks after IETM I put on Gear VR and found myself on a rooftop in a generic US downtown. A girl was standing in front of me. Sylvan Esso’s “Coffee” started playing, and the girl started dancing.

I’m in my forties and I can’t really remember the last time I was on a rooftop in such filmic scenery with a beautiful girl flirting with me by dancing seductively to a great song. More precisely, I’ve never been in such a situation. That didn’t stop me from feeling emotions which seemed very real from the second the video started. It was like being possessed. There was no introduction, no beginning, no exposition – the sheer physicality of that false world was so compelling that it fooled not only my senses, it fooled my being.

That was the first time I experienced virtual corporeality and it made me feel powerless. For thousands of years people needed stories, myths, plays, or any kind of storytelling to feel what the characters felt. Now, with VR, storytelling suddenly stumbled upon the territory which only music occupied, where form and content are one. That’s the reason, at first, I thought those emotions I felt came primarily from a song, not from a video I watched. But, playing that song without watching a video gave me the memory of that situation, not the memory of watching a VR video. My brain archived it as a real thing.

The form is there and it can produce false emotions by itself. Now it’s up to us to provide the content and the real emotions, born out of having a soul and not from a lack of a visual apparatus to distinguish reality from a stereoscopic 3D image with a frame rate of over 60 per second.

How do you think theatre makers should use new technologies in order to increase and enhance interactivity from the audience’s side?

Every device on the internet is assigned a unique IP address. Internet protocol version 4, which was conceived at the beginning of the internet as we know it today, limits the number of those devices to 4.293.967.286. It certainly seemed a lot back then, but it was exhausted on 3 February 2011. We didn’t notice it because it was replaced with Internet protocol version 6, which was conceived of at the time the Internet of Things, in which all devices would be connected to each other and we would interact with all of them, was already becoming viable. In order to be on the safe side and not run out of IP addresses in the future again, the creators of IPv6 chose the 128-bit address system. Now we can sleep safely, because we can now assign an IP address to every single atom on the surface of the Earth and still have enough addresses left to do another one hundred Earths with their surfaces and their atoms. It does seem somebody’s planning a lot of interactivity for all of us in everyday life. Theatre makers will not have to lead the interactivity race, they will just have to keep the pace with it.

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