V-Rtifacts

Tag Archive: Pix-Elation

Is VR the New Wasteland? (from 1993….)

VR today is like early TV: it suffers from the split personality of most start-up high-tech industries. At the one end is the top of the line research, carried out by institutions with no mandate to sell anything. At the other end, we have new hardware and software products whose developers are only too happy to demo them at a plethora of VR conferences, but where the differences in product are less important than the similarities. It’s like having a VCR and no movies to rent: who needs it? Virtual Reality will continue as the domain of media hype until its supporters and developers start to pay closer attention to the content of what they put out.

Ira Meistrich in Pix-Elation Issue Vol II No II

17 years later, is the situation drastically transformed? Perhaps not. In many ways 1993 was the golden age of VR, not only because the systems were truly immersive (e.g. wide field of view HMDs), but there were some complete VR experiences, especially from W Industries. OK, maybe it was the bronze age, not the golden, but it seems like we’re now back in the stone age. What happened? And… does anyone remember what a VCR is?

VRASP, Pix-Elation, and Phlogiston

1992 brought a non-virtual swarm of young and eager students to every VR event (and there were WAY too many) under the sun. Perhaps there were massive show discounts for attendees who were too young to drink legally, but members of the Virtual Reality Alliance of Students and Professionals (VRASP) were everywhere. You’d think this would be a major annoyance for the corporate crowd, but au contraire; what a joy to hang with the best and brightest… no hype, no BS, none of the pretentiousness so evident elsewhere in VR-land. VRASP directors included both VR industry management and an incredibly motivated and knowledgeable cadre of university students.

VRASP was the brainchild of Karin August, a Rutgers alum, and all around energizer bunny (Karin where are ya now??) Among other things, she and her cohorts had no problem moving right into a spare room at my company’s office; in exchange we got a full page inside-cover advertisement in VRASP’s almost-monthly publication Pix-Elation (Read a sample issue: Pix-Elation Issue 11) Taken from VRASP’s statement of purpose:

VRASP encourages immersion, interaction, and information dissemination amongst our membership, as well as between people and technology. Each VRASP Cell holds educationally-oriented meetings and events at which VRASP members get to socialize “ftf”, sharing their eclectic knowledge and cooperatively pursuing a future where Virtual Reality is a Reality.

There was certainly an element of socialization from Gordon Biersch to the Carnegie Deli, and this was reflected in their ‘zine: Pix-Elation. Columns like: “Dear Glovey”, “Lawnmower Lounge Lizard”, and “Fraunhofer Frolic” put the tease on; was Captain Beefheart inside?  Anyway, no need to pimp ’em further. Just read the ‘zine and weep!