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Grant Tavinor

Jan 28, 2022

The Aesthetics of Virtual Reality

Routledge Research in Aesthetics 2021

When philosophers have approached virtual reality, they have almost always done so through the lens of metaphysics, asking questions about the reality of virtual items and worlds, about the value of such things, and indeed, about how they may reshape our understanding of the “real” world.

Grant Tavinor finds that approach to be fundamentally mistaken, and that to really account for virtual reality, we must focus on the medium and its uses, and not the hypothetical and speculative instances that are typically the focus of earlier works. He also argues that much of the cultural and metaphysical hype around virtual reality is undeserved.

But this does not mean that virtual reality is illusory or uninteresting; on the contrary, it is significant for the altogether different reason that it overturns much of our understanding of how representational media can function and what we can use them to achieve.

The Aesthetics of Virtual Reality (Routledge, 2021) is the first book to present an aesthetics of virtual reality media. It situates virtual reality media in terms of the philosophy of the arts, comparing them to more familiar media such as painting, film and photography.

Grant Tavinor speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about some of the fundamental features of virtual reality, the implications of working in a picturing medium, as well as the challenges that VR poses to the philosophy of the arts and ethics.

Grant Tavinor is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Lincoln University, New Zealand. He has published widely on the aesthetics of videogames, virtual worlds, digital media ethics, and the philosophy of technology.

Pierre d’Alancaisez is a contemporary art curator, cultural strategist, researcher. Sometime scientist, financial services professional.

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