Pixel arts, vector arts, 3-D computer graphics, computer animations, and nowadays, Virtual Reality (VR). The technology of image construction in entertaining culture such as video games and movies has kept developing into a realistic direction. Texture, mass, sound, light and shadow, all of them are becoming more and more detailed, providing more sensational factors to mimic an existence.
In pictorial aspect, the graphic technology seems going opposite to painting’s pictorial liberation, the former goes more detailed and concrete in figuration, and the latter leads us to roam among figuration and abstraction, materialization and emotion.
We could be excited by the pixel Super Mario and Megaman, it is unbelievable if we look back from now, but it did work! What made it work? It was the power of imagination, and accurate mark-making in the image triggering the imagination. It is actually extremely skillful to represent image by 8-pixel graphics, capturing all the core visual hints in a figure, which is coherent to Kandinsky’s theory about extracting geometric elements form figure.
Do we need imagination to finish the mental illusion nowadays? Perhaps we still need it, but no doubt, much less than before. We are now sucked into virtual reality, but not making virtual imagination from reality by ourselves. Such difference is deadly critical. Virtual Imagination being possible to be triggered by 8-pixel images is also ready to be triggered by any tiny visual hints around us, such as the shape of clouds, trees and tissue etc. Illusion by that is unreal but internal, and we are active for it. As opposite, realistic virtual reality relies on external stimulus, we get into VR world during putting a VR on, but we leave once put off, we can memorize it or recollect it, but the possibilities for further imagination is very limited. Illusion by realistic virtual reality is concrete, but temporary and external, we are passive for it. In the other words, we seems have greater quality for the virtual world, but we are actually losing the faculties to variate our own virtual world.
Imagination and mental flexibility are very closed to each other, when it is declined, people will not get trouble in dealing question in different ways, but will loss the heterogeneous mind to see an answer in different ways. This is quite contemporary, I mean, a contemporary crisis, which, I guess, will be more and more obvious along the generations change.
Wai Kit CHAN (Hector)