Image by Superficial Studio.
In the new zine Reality vs Virtual Reality, designers Christie Morgan and Chrissie Abbott take on the strange task of trying to understand one of our most immersive technologies through paper and print. They wanted to explore "an unknown territory," and ask how this new digital dawn is altering our broader notions of what's real. Additionally, the two creatives started questioning how this technology was redefining ideas of utopia — after all what does paradise mean when you can create your own perfect worlds and identity online?
At first it sounds like a weighty topic, but as they began to explore it they realised these questions weren't hypothetical, they resonated with issues they were already immersed in. When creating parallel selves online, editing what others see on their lives through social media they were already creating an artificial construct; one that questioned their understanding of ideas like connection, isolation and what is it to exist in the "real world."
Ahead of the launch of Reality vs Virtual Reality this Friday, we spoke to them about building worlds and questioning what's real.
Before we get stuck into the artistic implications of this, what personally drew you to VR?
We were quite interested in the idea of the world being inside a matrix. We're so affixed to the internet and social media these days that we wanted to explore our artists mentality behind this digital age.
Image by Kriztonian.
You've said you "wanted to explore the idea of what expectations of reality are vs virtual reality." What do you mean by that?
We wanted to ask our artists this question to show visually what their expectations are of reality and then the contrast of virtual reality. Some artists have found there's no real distinction between the two, which is quite interesting. Everyone involved seemed to be really into the concept and felt like it was really relevant to their work too which was cool.
How did you select the artists?
We basically chose a number of artists that we find inspiring to us, but also artists that felt fit into a category of work that crossed the boundaries of digital and physical.
VR is about transcending space, did you feel the artists nationalities and physical locations play into their response to the topic?
Most artists responses were pretty cohesive and felt that VR is going to be something built into the human condition. Maybe that's because we picked like minded people to be involved but also the world is getting smaller, thanks to technology. We felt it was important to include people from across the world to give more an international perspective.
Has exploring virtual reality changed or developed your own ideas about reality?
It has changed our view on reality entirely! It no longer seems that there is a major distinction between the two, that we're kind of living in a semi-virtual reality anyway.
Image by Neon Saltwater.
Were there themes you noticed within the artists' responses? Are there questions or ideas we're innately drawn to when exploring this topic?
As mentioned before, we saw a lot of the artists connecting on the level that reality and virtual reality are somewhat the same in this age. A lot of the work was also related to a self-facing attitude, where each world is an idea of pure utopian imagination. The idea of escaping reality was also one that was described a lot.
How do you capture something so transcendent in a physical product like a zine?
The zine is kind of like the reality format of the project, it's also going to exist online at rvsvr.com. We think that physical objects and especially things like books and zines are so important, particularly in this digital age. There's something that feels a bit more legit or honest about a book.
Image by Chris Golden
Image by Elevator Teeth
Image by Hrsmnm
Image by K.704
Image by Esther Olsson
Image by French
Image by Gemma Pearce and Lydia Whitmore
Image by Tishk Barzanji
Text Wendy Syfret