VR and the Kinetoscope…history repeats itself?

VR offers individualised cinematic experience, rather different to the common experience of a cinema screening. Nothing is shared in VR. The headsets seal you off from the rest of the world and allow an entirely personal interaction with the visual. Although you may hear people excitedly deeming VR ‘an exciting innovation,’ it seems that it not entirely ‘new’ as an idea. If anything, it harks back to the days of early cinema, when private viewing using a device called the ‘Kinetoscope’ was commonplace.

Now, we enjoy more freedom and interaction with the moving image of course, with many VR devices allowing the spectator to navigate the direction of their journey through the filmic spectacle with hand or finger movements, and some even equipped with eye-tracking devices. Although the technology has come on in leaps and bounds, it would be short-sighted to ignore the fact that a certain trend has been repeated here. Rather than a shared space, VR brings us back to personalised viewing spaces. In an age, where screens dominate our lives and the average adult is estimated to spend at least seven hours per day looking at screens of one form of another, it seems that time spent on interactions with machines is almost rivalling the time we spend on interpersonal interactions.

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