The ability to differentiate fantasy and reality depends to some extent upon our experience of the world. So, how do those masses of very young children assimilate the experience of being in the fairytale landscape at Ludwigsburg? Does the lack of a well-developed frame of reference about reality and fantasy lead them to later recall visiting these characters as constructions or as living creatures, as a portrayal of a story or as a precursor to it?
A story of magic conveyed through words alone relies on the imagination of the reader or listener for full realization. We recognize our own input. When the same story is portrayed on screen, the ready-made images release most of the need for co-construction and may elicit comparisons with one’s notions of physical reality. Coming physically face to face with characters, peeking into or being part of the set of a story, allows one to walk a while in a world of different possibilities. Lack of creative input can make acceptance more ready.
The less active one is required to be in the construction of a story, the more actively one must monitor the fantasy-reality boundary. It’s not hard for an adult in a landscape littered with obvious fairytales but virtual reality, where the cues of physical reality are replaced with digital ones, is different.
The more real something seems, the more real it becomes, even to the extent that one’s mind and body assimilate the experience. Witness the research showing the effects of exposure to virtual reality: large declines in anxiety symptoms; a sense of time passing more quickly for some people receiving chemotherapy; improved walking ability for stroke patients; improved learning of physical movements. Virtual environments are so compelling they are used to train military personnel and people who perform medical services.
Virtual reality is being used every day to alter physical reality and one’s perceptions of it. Virtual reality changes the world.
Locate your reality. Where in the labyrinth composed from varying amounts of the raw materials of physical world and pure imagination, viewed through the personal lens of culture and experience, did an event take place?