The man who coined the term ‘virtual reality’ discusses art, science and life in the post-Sept. 11 world
Jaron Lanier — artist, scientist, visionary, and coiner of the term “virtual reality” — spoke by cell phone with J.D. Lasica from a café in Tribeca, New York, on Oct. 4, 2002, in advance of the PopTech conference in Camden, Maine.
The PopTech program teases us with your presentation by saying only, A Musical Experience With Virtual Reality. What should we expect?
Oh, my, that’s news to me. There is a thing I do sometimes which involves using some of the equipment from virtual reality research and stage performance, and I try to make virtual worlds that are themselves musical instruments in some way or have instruments in them. It’s fun, and it works on stage, but I’m struggling with this question of how to make creative tools for invention inside virtual worlds, and these instruments are, for me, the most familiar and appropriate metaphor to start with. However, I was not planning to do it in Maine, the reason being that it’s kind of a big production, and it’s expensive and involves a lot of equipment, and I had been thinking of this as a much simpler affair.