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Oculus Rift Is The New Surrealism

posted Jun 5, 2014, 9:20 AM by Ellen Pearlman


Salvador Dali, “Dream Caused By the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening”, 1944

 The only thing more vivid in direct symbology than a surrealistic painting is a dream. A dream is totally immersive and believable in its own logic for the dreamer, including its elliptical interpretations. Donning the Oculus Rift, one enters a spatial surrealism that is rendered in 3D. It is the ultimate simulacra, one the brain believes more readily than a 2D film. Surrealism believed ordinary depictions were important but their arrangement should be detached from everyday conventions. Because of the Unity game engine that is now entirely possible.


Rene Magritte, La Therapeute, 1941

A painting is flat and 2D. In order to make an experience more dream-like and immersive, the Oculus Rift is now using a new 360 degree Panoptican Camera with 36 HD lenses made by Sony’s Project Morpheus to up the ante with Facebook, who paid 2 billion dollars to buy, as its called “The Rift.”


Panoptican Camera with 36 HD Lens for Oculus Rift

A lot of early Virtual Reality (VR) made people throw up, or was not immersive enough. It had to surpass just being a clunky  television mounted on your neck. A huge bottleneck was it did not move in synch with the real time movements of your head. There was lag, which made the throw up problem, or "simulator sickness" all too real. Latency, down to 1/20 of a millisecond, or even less was the solution. This could only be resolved by the sampling, or data rate increasing. 


An inside look at the Oculus Rift goggles

This decrease in latency by the Oculus Rift has spurred more development in software to support its vision than at any other time. That’s because it actually tricks your brain into believing that it is living the immersive experience. The way it does that is by combining data from a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer to figure out your heads motion 1000 readings a second. It makes predictions via algorithms on how you will move, and sets up various rendering scenarios ready to load, which rids most snippets of latency. 

Then there was the issue of pixel refreshment of the viewing screen. The sharpest LCDs took 15 milliseconds to refresh. The Oculus Rift uses AMOLED screens. They have higher refresh rates and faster response times, just under a millisecond. 

So what do viewers want to be immersed in? Well then the surrealism of the potentially lived experience turns into normal sex and aggression fantasies, written by and for men. The issues of power and politics don’t go away. They just get transferred into realtime fantasies.


Typical uses of Oculus Rift by typical developers


Ho hum, another multi-million dollar immersive war game - ca-ching!

At least with Salvadore Dali’s  ”Dream Caused By the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening,” the sex and aggression is more immersive, and more dreamscape - less predictable. Let’s call that the”New Data Surrealism!”