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UAL Research Online

Natural and digital virtual realities: A practice-based exploration of dreaming and online virtual environments

Rauch, Barbara (2005) Natural and digital virtual realities: A practice-based exploration of dreaming and online virtual environments. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Rauch, Barbara

The dissertation explores issues of consciousness in relation to New Technology within the context of the researcher's own fine art practice. An outline of the development of a series of creative works is accompanied by an analytical and descriptive text. Together, both practice and text confront and explore existing paradigms of imagination, in particular dream experiences and experience within online virtual environments, looking specifically at the internet, Chat Rooms, "MUDs" and "MOOs" and, more broadly, on new technologies.

A cross-disciplinary approach has been adopted; neuro-scientific research into consciousness and the dreaming brain leads to a discussion of dreaming while an investigation into theories of digital territories seeks parallels for dialogue. Antti Revonsuo's theory of a natural "virtual reality in the brain" in particular helps to channel the investigation towards virtual reality research. But mostly it is through the practice that the research questions develop.

This is a comparative, analytical, and art practice-based investigation with particular emphasis on using digital technologies. Drawing on the research of Alvesson and Sk5ldberg (2000), a "reflexive action research" methodology has been employed to allow the making of the practical work to direct and redirect the progress of the research with the theories embedded. A continuous flow of working and reflexive analysis has evolved where one art work leads to the next theory or next investigative work. Different models of working have evolved where collaborative and participatory approaches have enabled concepts from the different disciplines to connect within the practical works.

The thesis reviews how the collision of models of human consciousness and thought, in particular the dreaming brain and online electronic writing, has produced a combination of theories from different sciences finding their way into the arts. Following Marshall McLuhan's (1964, p.3) proposition that with each new technology our understanding of reality and sensibility would change, the question examined here is whether the new online communication technology further expands the understanding of the virtual, the real and the imagined.

The thesis explores how collaborative contemporary art practice can serve as an interface drawing together different disciplines. New technologies have been used to initiate collaborative practice providing an arena for unexpected collisions and insights. Theoretical review of existing work tests the concepts while presentation of investigative and collaborative work opens further research using new creative technology as a tool to provoke new thought.

Practice is the fundamental core of the research and incorporating new methods, media and technology in a theoretical context forms the main contribution to knowledge. New scientific models related to consciousness and dream processes are introduced into the complexity of an art practice. The research includes works made collaboratively with other artists and/or technical scientists. A contribution to knowledge is also made in the process of creative and critical production and the analysis of contemporary art practice. The methods and methodologies applied reveal a developed understanding of reality, virtual reality and the self. Comparison between online environments and dreaming perceived as a moment of shift in terms of physical presence, where real, imagined and virtual experience multiply, merge and coexist, is explored in the thesis at the same time opening new questions for future research.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: December 2005
Date Deposited: 12 May 2020 14:38
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 15:53
Item ID: 15653
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15653

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