Throughout the history of mankind, the methods of promulgating knowledge have been gradually outdated. The same cave paintings of the Palaeolithic (35,000 – 44,000 years ago) were nothing more than practical methods of instructing those in the cave about an outside world they had perhaps never seen: how to hunt and what beasts they might encounter outside the cave.

Centuries later, culture would be handed down first through clay tablets, then hieroglyphics (culture in that case reserved for an elite and therefore meant to be difficult to understand, reserved for a very few individuals), then during the Middle Ages, then, during the Middle Ages, the handing down of texts by amanuensis monks, whose aim was to preserve classical masterpieces from the neglect of centuries, up to the Gutenberg printing press (around 1460) and then, with the enormous diffusion of those years, we slowly arrive at what can be considered the mass media of information. As mankind continued on its journey, the written form, in its dissemination, was joined by audio, through vinyl records replicated in multiple copies, disseminated in the living rooms of listeners who could then enjoy the sound of an instrument or an orchestra. When even the image, after sound, became reproducible, it had an immense impact. People used to be horrified at the cinema when they saw frames of a locomotive projected, black and white frames of a film that did not respect the speed (in jargon, framerate) of reality, but even so, it made a very, very great impression. Now let’s think about television, and therefore about the fact that anyone who was in their own home had the possibility of having this great emotional impact: being able to watch a film in their living room. At the end of the road so far, we arrive at the present day, where the user can choose the film while sitting in his living room, a film that he does not have to have on physical support, such as a hard disk, but that he downloads, with impressive quality, onto his television set. 4K televisions are becoming more and more popular, with truly impressive image quality and therefore immediacy. So this whole cultural-historical parabola leads inevitably to VR. In all the various processes mentioned so far, identification has been gradually increasing, and, significantly, VR is the means to make people live experiences in the first person, being at the center of the action: no longer spectators, together with an audience, of a multimedia content seen through a medium that was first rock, then clay, then paper and finally the screen, but in this case, it is reality itself that becomes a multimedia medium, a mass-media. Virtual reality places the observer at the center of the action with ever-increasing emotional involvement. Shifting the focus to culture: with the progress of the broadcasting media, culture to has been able to educate an ever-increasing number of people with cultural programs that started with “It’s never too late” by Maestro Alberto Manzi, then with scientific popularisation programs such as Quark, then with programs of historical, artistic and every human science. When anyone was able to record films, anyone was able to make their contribution (the thousands of YouTube tutorials on any subject).

Today it is possible to see, or I would say almost to live, culture in a new way, so, for example, to find oneself in the arena in the middle of a gladiator fight studying how volcanoes are made finding oneself inside biological processes concerning human anatomy (with red blood cells passing at a centimeter from the observer). The three films on offer are in stereoscopic mode, which means that when viewed with a virtual reality viewer, they give the sensation of actually being in the physical environment where the action is taking place. This is how the nationalistic side increasingly involves the emotional side, having its peak in virtual reality.



Gabriele Giglio 



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