In viewing multimedia's broad historical chronology,
we see the timelessness and cyclical nature of human expression
from the dreams and representations as depicted
in the prehistoric caves of Lascaux;
to the totalizing experience of the Gesamtkunstwerk;
to recent digital forms of immersive experience
and altered states of consciousness.
This notion is expressed through such works as conFiguring
the CAVE, created in 1997 by Jeffrey Shaw, Agnes Hegedues,
Bernd Linterman and Leslie Stück for the CAVE
system at the InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo,
Japan. According to curator Toshiharu Ito, conFiguring the
CAVE articulates the "fourth dimension that exists
between the work and the viewer. In that space, the viewer's
awareness and bodily experiences can be restructured and recreated."
In describing immersive forms, "we cannot,"
according to Margaret Morse, "fully anticipate what it
means to experience that realm until we are inside." Interactive
multimedia is experiential and sensory, you dont simply
observe the object, you are the object. You enter into and become
part of the landscape, not just a detached observer. The medium
functions as an extension of the self, a reconfiguration of
identity, dreams, and memories blurring the boundary
between self and exterior.
Are we becoming virtual? Pierre
Lévy describes virtualization as "that which
has potential rather than actual existence. The virtual tends
toward actualization. " The revolutionary nature of
multimedia, from Wagner to virtual reality, lies in its potential
to transform the human spirit.
Just as our prehistoric ancestors painted their
own reflections on the walls of Lascaux history comes
full circle, or as T.S. Elliott wrote in the Four Quartets,
"my end is my beginning."