Before I had the understanding, I was very dismissive towards art. I thought of it as an escape from life. Why immerse myself in movies and books and music – why care about all this imaginary stuff when the real world is waiting out there, I thought.
But now when the distinction between imaginary and real has dissolved, I find myself treasuring these things. Orcs, X-Wings and Agent Smith of The Matrix, are no less real than the computer I sit in front of as I write this – and to watch them on the screen is by no means an escape anymore.
Spending time experiencing Mordor and the Death Star isn’t a waste of life, despite how often people like to remind us otherwise – but is ultimately a celebration of life itself whose expression takes infinite forms, including “Karate Kid,” “Batman” and “Gone with the wind.”
But if I allow myself to philosophize a bit, I can’t help but think it’s too bad that movies are only experienced in terms of two sense modalities. I mean, how cool would it be if we could create a movie that not only included video and audio, but also, let’s say, tactile elements?
Those could be on their own track, so that, along with the images and sounds, there would be a series of tactile sense impressions playing out – that is, whoever was experiencing the movie would not only see images and hear sounds, but would also feel any relevant sensations!
And if the video portion of this visual, auditory and tactile symphony could just encompass the entire visual field—so that you’re not watching a screen or anything like that, but you’re right there, right in the midst of it—we would surely have something truly remarkable.
With encompassing visuals, and by inserting such tactile elements in just the right places, we would have a much more immersive and realistic experience. The tactile track would, of course, be in perfect synchronization with the others’; so that when something happened in, for example, the visual feed, that event would have its corresponding sensations played from the audio and tactile tracks. There would simply be this perfectly designed commonality between everything, so that the impression of you being in the movie would be entirely believable.
What if we could do that?