Danfung Dennis

No matter how enlightened any one of us may be, we are fundamentally limited to our own points of view — but it is human nature to try to broaden our perspective. For me, that’s where V.R. comes in. I have found that the medium has an extraordinary capacity to convey the kinds of feelings of presence and place I’ve always aspired to capture through photojournalism. …
In V.R., we instinctively feel a surge of empathy for those whose experiences we are immersed in. The suffering of people in war zones becomes our suffering, just as the killing of animals in the wild and in factory farms becomes a source of our pain as well.
Referencing his own limitations of perspective, Einstein once wrote of grief, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Through V.R., we now have a chance to do just that.

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1 Response to Danfung Dennis

  1. shinichi says:

    American Bison

    by Danfung Dennis

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/opinion/sundance-new-frontiers-virtual-reality.html

    No matter how enlightened any one of us may be, we are fundamentally limited to our own points of view — but it is human nature to try to broaden our perspective. For me, that’s where V.R. comes in. I have found that the medium has an extraordinary capacity to convey the kinds of feelings of presence and place I’ve always aspired to capture through photojournalism.

    As a young photographer, I was transfixed by the iconic wartime images of great photographers like Robert Capa and James Nachtwey. Their vision of the world far transcended my own. Hoping to emulate their effect, I trained myself to follow in their footsteps, covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a freelance photojournalist for The New York Times and Newsweek.

    But I found that my photographs were not having the impact that I had hoped. There was something too abstract and flat about them, a quality that allowed anyone viewing them to remain distant from images of suffering. Frustrated by the barriers, I built a camera that could shoot steady, cinematic video in a war zone, and I made a feature-length film following a United States Marine in Afghanistan.

    While the film provided a glimpse into the brutal reality of war, it was only a small window into that world. I wanted to go further, to pull people through that window onto the front lines and let them witness it firsthand.

    I started the technology company Condition One in order to build a new camera to shoot in stereoscopic 3D, 360-degree video. We want to initiate a new generation of viewers jaded by flat images into the visceral emotions of being immersed in a whole new world.

    The power of virtual reality is its command of presence — its ability to transport the viewer into another world, and have him feel present in it. These experiences are technically difficult to create and require significant computing power, but once presence is achieved and sustained, it is breathtaking.

    One of the first tests I did with our prototype V.R. camera was leaving it in the path of a herd of wild American bison. When I viewed the result through a V.R. headset, I watched them walk straight up to me, snort in my ear and look me straight in the eye. I felt the strong presence of this massive animal, a descendant of a species that was once ruthlessly hunted to the brink of extinction. And I found that I cared about this bison in a much deeper way than I had before.

    In V.R., we instinctively feel a surge of empathy for those whose experiences we are immersed in. The suffering of people in war zones becomes our suffering, just as the killing of animals in the wild and in factory farms becomes a source of our pain as well.

    Referencing his own limitations of perspective, Einstein once wrote of grief, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

    Through V.R., we now have a chance to do just that.

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