To See or Not to See? : The Effect of Technology on Society

Cartoon_eye_study_by_My_Safe_HavenIn Part three of the book , ” Open Sky”, by Paul Virilio, the idea of too much visual stimulation is brought to the forefront of the reader’s minds.

“Vision is no longer the possibility of seeing, but the impossibility of not seeing” – Gary Hill

Virilio discusses how a person in today’s society cannot ignore the visual media around them and the concept that it is hard to believe in the “stability of the real.” It brings about the discussion of what can we even classify as real anymore?

When the fact that is mentioned is that we could lose our ranking as “eye witnesses” of certain situations is alarming. I had not begun to realize the societal implications that will ensue if we allow technology and other people’s visualizations to become our own. As I was reading this section, I began to feel like I was reading about robots. The discussion of ” mechanization of vision” where lasers would produce the same effect as rods and cones in our eyes. He discusses how,

the increasing desertion of movie theaters is not a sign of a decline in ‘ cinematic obscuratism.’ It is in fact the dawn of an ‘infographic illusionism’ that will, if we are not careful, wind up once again undermining the status of appearance, the reality principle of our immediate representations.”- pg 95

Virilio talks about “eyeball cinema” in the realm of Imax theaters. My first thought when I read this part of the chapter was the rapid increase in 3-D movies in the past few years. The primary time that I had an experience with 3-D was the movie Avatar , where I felt apart of the imaginary world.


There have been many studies since then to show how Avatar , as a film, was visually appealing but also emotionally engaging. In an interview with the director, James Cameron, he said that,” Only about 25 percent of the movie was created using traditional live performances on sets. The rest takes place in an entirely computer-generated world—combining performance capture with virtual environments that have never before been realized on film.”
I am now beginning to realize that I need to be aware of what I am looking at and processing visually because it has physical and sociological consequences as well.