Skeuomorphs and Remediations: Working Environments for Consumer Virtual Reality Platforms

Łukasz Mirocha


Acknowledging the latest renaissance of spatial and immersive media technologies and content (VR/AR), the article reconceptualizes their status as software media and cultural objects. Specifically, drawing on work of i.a. Lev Manovich, Alexander Galloway and Oliver Grau, the author argues that due to a wide range of real-time sensory cues that a VR experience delivers, it should be considered as a new type of software media interface, rather than a multisensory projection. The argument is based on case study research on commercially available software applications that strive for converting computer-generated spatial immersive environments into working environments. Consumer-oriented software was selected as the object of study due to its exposure. Consequently, its popularity based i.a. on low entry barrier, leads to a greater social and cultural impact than in-house, corporate VR software or immersive new media arts projects do.

The study focuses particularly on design principles implemented to create a virtual working environment and on interaction methods used as HCI paradigms for managing the data and navigating the environment. In order to achieve a certain level of familiarity and support for legacy data and media, the aesthetics of VR working environments is based i.a. on spatial remediations of established GUI elements and visual skeuomorphism. The analysis shows that VR as a relatively new medium, particularly in non-gaming applications, faces challenges in the area of pre-VR content representation, on one hand, and in taking advantages of the affordances offered by a spatial environment (particularly at the interaction and level), from the other.Theoretically, the study follows software and platform studies approaches, informed by critical theory and media studies perspectives.

Słowa kluczowe: virtual reality, interface, interaction, software studies, remediation

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