8.0301 R: The Future of Humanities and Arts (1/48)

Thu, 17 Nov 1994 00:00:25 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 8, No. 0301. Thursday, 17 Nov 1994.

Date: Tue, 1 Nov 1994 03:56:35 -0500
From: <matsuba@writer.yorku.ca>

I believe that the future of archeology and the rest of the humanities
and the arts will involve, dare I say it, more interactive
applications. Our fate will not be to simply develop remote education
stations to teach services courses. I strongly believe that the
humanities-based disciplines will be instrumental in implementing new
technologies like virtual reality and telepresence. Indeed, we will
eventually go beyond these scientific and military technologies to
develop and implement our own. We will responsible for not only
creating knowledge; we will be responsible for
facilitating the access to that knowledge and how it will be

A peek at the potential of the Net, computer applications, and telepresence
can be found at USC. The Departments of Archeology and Computer Science
have set up a World Wide Web site where you can control a robotic arm
through the W3. Using an interface like Mosaic, you can position the
arm over what amounts to a sandbox and use a blower to uncover objects
that are buried in the sand. The arm has a camera that sends you a picture
of what you have"found". Users are then asked to comment on their
experience after their time on the system has expired. These comments
are then archived so that other users can read about the experience of
other users.

The whole system is somewhat limited because of the technology, but this will
change as interfaces and bandwidth are improved. But imagine the possibilities
in terms of theatre, dance, media studies, et cetera. And factor in the
ways in which we can utilize VR for both research and teaching (I'm just
finishing an article on this subject). I believe that the the humanities
and arts have the potential to not only avoid neglect. They have the
the ability to bring more attention and (gasp!) respect to them.

I do not want to make it seem that there are not dangers inherent by
taking this approach. Questions about VR and access to technology are
very real issues (Marie Laure-Ryan has a very interesting article on VR
and literary theory in the latest issue of Postmodern Culture). But
while some of us will take the role of chorus to remind us of the
dangers, others will go on to push the technology and its application
in the humanities. Indeed both will have to exist if there is to be
any real progress.

Stephen Naoyuki Matsuba Is't real that I see?
Graduate Programme in English --William Shakespeare
York University
4700 Keele Street
North York, Ontario
bitnet: engl5105@nexus.yorku.ca