In today’s world of Photo-shopped and computer generated images and animations that imitate life with incredible realism, how do we know what is real?
Technological advances in the field of filmmaking are challenging our ability in many instances to discern what is actual and factual. Even with a closer look we cannot easily tell the difference between manufactured and naturally occurring scenes. In ads in magazines, and on TV, the special effects in movies and on our computers we see still and moving pictures that wow us with their incredible sometimes mind-blowing depictions of people, animals and events. Some are amusing, some troubling, and some wonderfully moving. We cannot help but be impressed.
Even before the advent of all this capability to distort, to change and to rearrange things, we had the pleasure of being amazed by the ability of photographers to capture real life spontaneously and pose people to express their individual personas so powerfully. The genius of gifted photographers combined with skill and art and often super human patience, and willingness to risk life and limb to get that once in a life time shot has shown us what we otherwise would never have been able to see, or to know.
My husband Don used to do aerial photography; in order to get the best low altitude oblique photos of north, south, east and west views, he would hang outside of the airplane door with his camera to get the type and quality of pictures that others couldn’t. He didn’t have to employ anything but his well trained eye, skill as a photographer and his guts to get a bird’s eye view of the scene in a way that helped developers and builders save time and money and have great murals on their walls of their projects. Not that the early photographers didn’t use clever darkroom techniques as well as retouching. For the most part, though, it used to be the talent behind the camera that told the story. We have always been told the camera does not lie. The difference is now is that we cannot determine if what we are seeing is what the camera actually saw, and what the computer skills of the photographer creates for our eyes to see.
Virtual reality is a reality of sorts. However, it isn’t what nature made and it often defies our brains ability to differentiate real from unreal.
Yet the subconscious sees what the brain cannot see, and senses the impossibility our eyes have not detected and causes us to wonder, “how did they do that?’ “That’s not possible!”
Having some experience now and knowledge of how things can be faked, we are getting smart enough consciously to have reasonable doubt. That’s good. To question is human intelligence working for us as it is supposed to. We have to do many reality checks in everyday life these days, because we are wise to the media manipulation of facts, (modern-day propaganda) and how news reports are tailored with careful editing so you get a story, not THE story or the whole story: You get only partial reality through news media in sound and visual bites, and reality shows are being proven to be staged to keep audiences entertained. And seeing with your own eyes has never been irrefutable evidence of fact; “I saw it with my own eyes” statements have proven incredulous, and that’s how and why the magician performs what seems like magic.
The fact is the brain can fool the senses and the senses can fool the brain. This is why computer generated realities are so often effective in tricking us; it’s the conscious brain cooperating naively with the intention of the producer.
It’s not that we cannot imagine the remarkable and even the incredible occurring in everyday life. We are capable of envisioning myriad possibilities, and we all sense we have amazing ( if so far latent) potential, and as conscious and subconscious beings, we are able to grasp the futuristic concepts presented to us in films and in animated clips we see almost every day on TV. In many respects when we engage ourselves in a movie, we are being hypnotized, for we temporarily suspend our conscious sense of limitations to accommodate the special effects and animations presented to our senses when we watch a movie. That’s a choice we make consciously. We can identify with the heroines and heroes. In fact, in some respects movies are like the wish fulfillment experienced in our dreams.
The lies that lie within so much of what comes through to our senses these days are cleverly formulated deliberately in the attempt bypass our conscious and to fool the subconscious; for it has been well-known to advertisers that appealing to the subconscious sells the most products.
All of this is paradoxical , because subconsciously nothing is assumed impossible and it is always matter of -factly performing phenomenal feats considered by many to be impossible: I.E healing and changing brain function and chemistry and proving we are not as hard-wired as it was once thought: (Neuroplastcity).
Within the context of my own life and that of so many of my clients, I’ve witnessed the seemingly impossible or miraculous occur with the subconscious help. So while we admire the skill and appreciate the craftsmanship demonstrated on our screens, on a deep level, our subconscious intelligence works with our instincts to tell our conscious mind what is truly humanly possible; for if that were not the case, our desire to fly like the birds would have us jumping off cliffs all the time.
Part of this paradox is that the subconscious doesn’t automatically know the difference between real and imagined, (that’s why it’s only when we awaken from a dream that we realize we were dreaming). Nor is the body able to determine the difference; for when we imagine something happening or dream it, our bodies respond as though it actually happening, as seen on biofeedback. Yet whenever we see movies that depict humans and an animal performing beyond what we know is feasible, the awareness of its falseness comes to consciousness. So in spite of the fact that we human beings are continuously learning that we have abilities far and above what was once considered possible, we can still sense when we are being tricked by the lens, or the technology.
We adore and marvel at the brilliance of the animations and technological manipulations of reality, because they are in many respects like our dreams; and if you pay attention to your dreams and note that in many of them you perform remarkable feats of moving in time and space effortlessly, changing scenes and characters, flying without wings, bringing people living and dead into the scenario, and doing things in your waking state you could or would never do. Indeed dreams have been the breeding ground of a great deal of scientific advancement and many an authors novels first came to them in their dreams.
A question comes to mind about all this, though: Will we lose our connection with the real world and through time-lapse, fast forward and image manipulation our sense of our place in it; and will we still be able to create practical down to earth ways to overcome our real world challenges? Will the real world seem dull and less exciting because virtual reality creates a seemingly more vivid and dynamic experience for us?
George Orwell and other authors who predicted with their science fiction a world that is now in many respects real for us, have their counterparts in our modern age. Star Treck and the genre of futuristic writers are still telling us what we can expect when we use our imaginations and ability to invent in order to go beyond where no man has ever been.
The fact is though, the best writers of yester year left much to our imaginations, and modern-day virtual reality and movie effects do not. I think that’s a loss. Because perhaps too many people are relying on the imaginations of others to form their inner experience; and are we becoming inured or even addicted to violence and high-speed action because it is so common place?
Before this world-wide video arcade of animation and fantastic fictionalized everything, human imagination created actual things. Envisioning incredible possibilities and capabilities is part of our humanness, that’s how we evolved, and keep evolving. We are able to make our real world as fantastic as we would like it to be, and as seen in the movies.
However, I wonder, will the ability to create a virtual reality and an imaginary world limit or facilitate our endeavors to make our real world a better place? After all if we can get satisfaction and our sense of wonder via artificial means, will we lose sight of the wonders of real world, and worse yet be dissatisfied with it? I hope not.
The same concerns I had many years ago about TV replacing human interaction in the home, then computers and the internet interfering with face to face social interaction, unfortunately has already become a reality.
So I wonder will virtual reality have as much negative impact on humans as positive. Obviously we have individual choices about that. However, we must be consciously as well as subconsciously aware of what is really real, and what isn’t and refine our abilities to determine the difference if we are to have our human intelligence keep up with the artificial intelligence.
Yes, human intelligence creates the artificial, at the same time we need to be aware of how it can be used to manipulate our sense of reality and therefore can be as dangerous as it is marvelous.
Yes, it is ever more difficult to discern facts from fiction, truth from lies. Dare we think of all the ways it can be used to manipulate us, to confuse us, and distort our perceptions and form and reform our opinions? So don’t take anything for granted. Do your reality checks, regularly. Ask “Is this for real? Has it been altered to alter my perception of reality? Was it for fun or what….?” Listen to the wise inner perceptive self, for it knows, honestly.
TTFN and all the best, always, from Elaine Kissel
Have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. Take care, take time now and then to breathe deeply, relax before responding, don’t over do, do only what makes your reality a pleasant and joyful one.