Where our parents used a keyboard, always with the same old keystroke, we push screens like the leaves of a tree, fast, slow. While they went to a library, we search our networks for pieces of knowledge. They took pictures in groups of 24 and 36, subject to certain rules - we take pictures just as we put morsels in our mouth, taste them or spit them out. Particularly interesting pictures,memes and filmed actions are shared with the community: Facebook groups, Instagram feeds, we gather digital tribes of followers.
The way we move in our environment, the way we communicate, the way we experience our bodies and consider our environment has changed. To capture the entire social implications of these changes the American author Marc Prensky described the current generation with the term "digital natives" in 2001, the "digital natives" as children of the "digital immigrants". The older generation has learned the manual handling of individual digital applications and input and output devices with instructions that were passed on linguistically, while their children, so Prensky, do not distinguish between digital and analog principles of thought and action. The promise to the digital natives is: free access, fast satisfaction of needs of the body, but also of the soul, immediate effectiveness of movements. I'm hungry, I'm looking for something to eat, maybe I'll get even hungrier, I find a fruit, pick and eat it at the same time. But this intuition is based on high technological knowledge.
Is the digital native, who can live and work anywhere, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Homme sauvage"? A completely free wild person in its natural state, that needs no language and no society, who owns nothing and doesn't want to settle ? The present study examines the motives of originality in the digital world and connects them to the material they are actually based on: data, information, values and parameters. Each code must be written correctly and function without errors. How is the world were the Digital Native is born in?
I want to determine this world by analysing the habits, the data of people of different generations. The world is accessible with an Oculus Rift.Two articles will provide an overview of the history of this world. It is twofold: the cultural history of fascination for the simple, the primitive, the wild; and the history of technology of artificial illusory spaces. A third text generally explains my method. Other short texts introduce some principles on which my work is based. These principles combine intuition and logic, as does the concept of digital natives.
The concept of digital natives joins an old interplay of civilisation : a "hazy association of rawness and simplicity" caused by children's drawings, tribal art or peasant crafts has always fascinated historic writers, philosophers and designers and led to new forms.
Why does the "coarseness and rawness of old paintings" fascinate us so much, when new images are so much more "brilliant (...) in beauty and color diversity" is something that already the Roman philosopher Cicero wondered about in the 1st century BC.In a book Jean-Jacques Rousseau calls a member of civil society a "Homme civil" and describes through long pages the state of nature and the environment of human beings: "I see (humans) as (they) feed themselves under an oak tree, quench their thirst at the first little stream and camp at the foot of the same tree, that donated them their meal; and thus their needs are satisfied. The world, left to its natural fertility and covered with immense forests, which have never been mutilated by an ax, offers lots of hideouts and supplies to all animals. The people that lived scattered among them observe their skills, imitate them (...). Accustomed to the inclemency of the weather since young age, practiced in bearing fatigue and forced to defend their life our prey naked and without weapons, these people are made of a strong and almost indestructible body texture. (...) ". The description can also be read as a utopia of the Enlightenment: every man should be able to live like this: satisfy his needs, feel free and act.
In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America. No later than that the era of European colonisation begins in large parts of the planet. For a long time the raw materials and the new beverages and food are the focus of interest. But more than this reached Europe: stories, artefacts and pictures of the "savages", which were shown in cabinets and chambers of curiosities and rarities. In the 19th century, finally, photographic art make pieces of art something further, more natural people become popular and visible in Europe. At the same time the first ethnological museums open up in European capitals. The trade of foreign European artpieces begins to flourish. On the one hand artists, designers and architects copy forms and decoration of the artefacts: this creative appropriation is called exoticism. On the other hand the original creative impetus is a basic theme of modernity: "people feel "that modern art is primitive in a way". Elements of "primitive art" drive more artists to look for new forms.
Paul Gauguin writes about "the civilisation that you are suffering of (and) the barbarism which has rejuvenated me." His paintings definitively destroy the dominant principle of central perspective in European paintings, which set the illusion of a distanced observer through the use of foreground and background since the Renaissance . Instead, the nearby, large, rhythmically arranged figures should put the viewer into the scene and allow him to really grasp it. Paul Klee admired children's drawings. André Breton and Alberto Giacometti spent time at flea markets looking for items that convey a deep sense of "convulsive beauty", a kind of totem of their friendship . Henri Rousseau deliberately created naive paintings which simplified the rules of space that had been acquired over centuries of study and that still stimulated observers. Expressionism is unthinkable without the proliferation of artefacts of African folk art and without Prinzhorn's "Artistry of the Mentally Ill". In general, it seems that "primitive art" truly fascinated modern artists because they didn't only appeal to the sense of sight, but enabled a greater aesthetic experience.
The terrible consequences of racial thinking between 1933 and 1945 and the increased reflection of European colonial history in postmodernism put the enthusiasm of modernity for "primitivism" in a critical light. The Intuitive and the Easy, however, remained fixed themes of art and design. Primitivist art was extended in the traditional sense from the 60s and it dealt with new interactive objects and installations with intuitive possibilities of art. This basic idea is maintained in various primitivist ways of thinking as well as in general genres such as minimalism or the Op-Art . Even nowadays the fixed vocabulary of artists and designers includes primitive-looking designs and methods. They are often connected to pieces of art of the current times or show a relation to the digital world. The fabrics of the Californian designer BFGF insert the technical symmetries of textile materials to produce wobbly, bold outlines of their motives.
They combine motifs of the original, plants, stones, vessels, naked bodies, featuring elements of the present like the Nike Logo or mobile phones. David Trotter describes the Primitive as a creative method of digital presence with the term Neo-Primitivism, which he uses to describe a new generation of artists that works with the ideologies of primitive people despite the changing globalised structures . Primitivist art was often criticised for only copying "interesting" motives. Jacques Lipchitz's Figure was said to be only "the representation of a totem, the report of a totem" , but without the function of a totem, which organises spatial and social movement. Digital objects have this dynamic potential. While molding is done "physically and intuitively outside of a computer " and is eventually completed, digital form is created through generative processes and optical simulations, which can produce infinite variations.
Illusion rooms are as old as manhood's desire to extend the possibilities of the human angle of view and to escape it. Are the cave paintings of Lascaux, the first trials of virtual reality animations? Vilém Flusser  compares the image understanding of the people of Lascaux with the understanding of the people of the Renaissance and the citizens of our modern technologic world. The handmade paintings on the cave walls are seen as a possibility to escape the immediate reality, while technically produced pictures from the functioning of the apparatus.
Much earlier than the Renaissance found an illusory space experience through the central perspective, people used to use the space and surface texture of a cave to cause a greater effect of inclusion of the viewer in the space . Thoughtful concepts of these space immersions can also be found on frescoes from ancient times: here, natural motifs and domestic scenes of reality are often shown, as in the Villa de Miseri (ca. 200 BC..). In the Byzantine mosaic rooms, the frescoes of the Renaissance and the illusionary ceiling paintings of the Baroque, religious motives, ie those which exceed the reality, dominate the scene, as in the Chambre du Cerf (1343, Rome) and the Sale delle Prospettive (1516, Rome).
In the end of the 18th century Robert Barker invented the art word "Panorama" to give a title to his invention of a painted inside rotunda. An entire building was built and covered with canvases over several floors. As a hybrid of art and entertainment, this concept became internationally popular in the 19th century and quickly spread. The topics are distant places and attractions, travel, political battles and fantasies. The painted panoramas experience something like a golden age, whose temporary end comes with Claude Monet's water lilies at Giverny, where a landscape that does not want to reproduce reality is shown and where the viewer founds himself "immersed" in a lily pond . The development of the kinematic motion picture projection, as we know, was accompanied by various media experiments: The Photorama (Périphote) by the Lumière brothers in the year 1900 is a camera with a cylindrical housing that can rotate of 360 ° around the center of the cylinder. The whole horizon can thus be detected on the film in a single shot. Unlike films this type of recording doesn't want to represent moving objects, it tries to record as much visual information of the moment as possible. At the end, we still obtain a two-dimensional image. A new kind of depth perception, however, is offered by the stereoscope since 1838, where two images of a map, taken at the angle of the sightlines of both eyes, are combined with two eyepieces. This technique takes advantage of the natural functioning of the human eye, to simulate an artificial space. But a space is also defined by movement and the passing of time. This possibility wasn't offered by the analog stereoscope. The most important way to make the experience of moving spaces possible originated in the 1920s with 3D glasses. The differently colored glasses made a slightly offset image visible to on eye and not to the other. The space film becomes a new medium for so-called Cineramen. In 1962 the Sensorama  by Morton Heilig went several steps further and combined movements and smells, in addition to a stereoscopic projected film, in a single machine. The "driver" could thus experience a drive through downtown New York with a superior number of synthetic senses. The invention is rightly regarded as the first form of virtual reality.
Mid 20th century the advancement of digital technology lead to new levels of interconnection between manhood and machine. The invention of the screen as a unit, that visually displays the computing tasks of the computer can be seen as one of the key events for the interface between the two parties. In 1966 Ivan Sutherland's invention led to the creating of the first Head Mounted Display (HMD) . The analog principle of the stereoscope is combined with the technology of the screen. The direction of view and the location of the wearer of the HMD are included in a computer-generated picture. The visual impressions of the display are obtained by projections in the stereoscope. Simple geometric shapes are placed over the field of vision of the user. This technology still is the most common way to create virtual space experiences. Through the 70's computer scientists and media artists developed more complex approaches to experience space by means of rapid technological advances in computer technology. The Expanded Cinema, a multimedia extension of the classic movie, or the first Data glove by Tom Furtness , that was able to translate motor movements in the virtual space, represent groundbreaking innovation concepts that fertilized future projects.
Unlike the two-dimensional surfaces and interfaces of the desktop computer, which started being used in private households in the eighties, VR projects pursued the goal of providing the user with a three-dimensional experience of space. Ivan Sutherland's method was combined with increasingly sophisticated computer graphics. Other approaches such as the CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) also emerged: in this case, the computer helmet is omitted and an immersive experience that strongly involves the body in the experience is created by means of a pair of lightweight 3D glasses and projections within a small space . The spaces of experience were combined with more and more content from this moment onwards: entire landscapes and urban areas could be displayed by means of simplified 3D models. The benefits for state military training simulations were explored and implemented from this point.
The exponential technological progress and the dramatic price fall of computing power caused a large group of private companies to focus exclusively on consumable experiences in virtual space in the nineties. The term virtual reality was invented and marketed. However, populist rejoicing hymns do not keep the position in opposition to technical realities. The actual products are still too similar to very simple video games and create a gambling hall atmosphere. Nevertheless, the technology of the time prepares the ground for the creation of artistic projects and new interactive concepts. Mythical issues such as space in osmosis, philosophical inclusions (the House of the Brain) in virtual spaces and the strong reference to naturalism form a true execution of the seemingly profound possibilities and social effects of new media technologies .
The enthusiasm for the topic lessens in the beginning of the 21st century, but it is expanded with new space concepts such as Augmented Reality and the general fusion of new smart devices. By means of another technological performance boost and the new tech-savvy generation, that is now entirely linked to the Internet, drive for the topic of virtual reality sees the light from 2010 onwards. The difference to the previous experiments is the new global network, where a large community of interested and experienced networkers works for the community with a new open source mentality. The Oculus Rift heralds the start of a new attempt to bring a virtual reality into the household of everybody, this among other commercial companies from the US, Japan and Korea . New DIY methods arise for little money and by means of simple materials such as cardboard and stereoscopic companions, simple HDM's can be reconstructed. These can be combined with commercial smartphones and offer an even easier way to enter virtual imagery.
Completely profitless projects can thus be implemented quickly and effectively by artists or designers. The programmed realities no longer depend on computing power and can be built and used in all conceivable hyperrealistic areas. Besides artistic approaches such as Jon Rafman, James Turrell or Ian Cheng's , who use the new media to communicate a complex interplay of technology for human beings, new projects that deliberately help users or support their everyday life are created. Medical, architectural and documentary applications are planned and implemented in order to reproduce various exceptional conditions in a realistic way or vtoisualize professional workflows in new ways.
While HMD's computing power for deceptively real immersions is still necessary, it will add the lighter, in the future there will be promising movements of change towards lighter appliances that are more independent from energy sources. In addition to that, micro- or even nanotechnological researches leave a lot of speculative space upwards . Current technology has now reached a point where it must be shown how developers and designers can have innovative ideas and design by taking inspiration from the ancient idea of immersion of the space.
Digital Natives are an interesting generational phenomenon because, unlike the generation of their parents, they leave behind a massive collection of records and data through their constant contact with digital resources and applications. How often was he or she online? How much of a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant is there in her or him? How much does he or she unveil when using a simple web site? These values and the resulting accumulation of information are the starting point for the creative process of this work. A profile was created for each user, which leaves an individual record that can then be analysed and converted.
Users come from different generations. The oldest people are between 60-70 years old and the youngest between 10-20 years of age. Overall, I interviewed more than 50 people, the survey is still available on a website.
I used different measuring instruments to create an extensive profile of the user for my study:
The first part consisted of a traditional written survey about Digital Natives with questions that must be answered. The questions where available in print and as an online version (saschakrischock.com/natives). It encompasses the following basic themes:Digital literacy, personal attitude to digital media, digital competence, sense of time in relation to digital media, dealing with smart devices, drawing tasks that are connected to the topic.
In the second part of the study the users are asked to work interactively with situations where they have to rearrange a figure or draw something out of there mind. Those Images gets saved in the Database and I then use them to individually create Objects and Atmospheres throughout the application.
After I collected the input of the single individual I used various known methods of converting data into three dimensional visuals. Procedural synthesis is used for the outer shape of an area or landscape. Photogrammetry(also known as 3D Scanning) was used to to collect objects which appear inside the experience. Vegetational elements like trees and plants are generated in context to the users data and then randomly planted on the existing area. Methods of converting data into forms and emotions like the "Chernoff-Faces" and the idea of the "Homunculus" take part in the creation of the individual happenings inside the environment.
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