“We are not only a natural species, but a technological species” - Peter H. Kahn.
Being exposed to an ever-increasing, technological world provides a tremendous opportunity for societal growth by creating new forms of pedagogy throughout our daily lives. Advancements in AR and VR, has made Mixed Reality a more engaging modes of explorative learning. XR can have the protentional to aid in education, medical, and environmental practices; as well as provided more hyper realistic forms of escapism, revolutionary methods of playability, and sensorially heightened ways to interact with physical surroundings. However, Peter H. Kahn argues that these fabricated layers are becoming undistinguishable from the real, and altering the relationship between nature and technology.
Neo-Nature allows the user to explore the mechanics of entering, exiting, and interacting with a virtual landscape by using the presence of their physical one. When putting on the presented Oculus Quest, the user sees their immediate surroundings, along with a virtual grid before them. By passing through, they are then introduced to a digitally created forest environment, present with trees, rocks, sky and other natural features. The user’s hands are digitally present as they engage with the space and interact with the nature. There is contact with both the virtual and real world as the items in the virtual space are positionally mapped over ones in the room. Though these sensorial interactions, the user is simultaneously touching something that is both there and not there.
By pairing the senses across both realities, Neo-Nature creates a perceptional paradox to the real. When exiting both the virtual portal and the VR headset, the user is reminded of the layers of perception they have just experienced. As this nature simulation can in ways be beneficial and healthy, it can also increase our alienation and lack of obligation towards real natural environments. Neo-Nature thus demonstrates these fragile relationships and puts the user in a perspective space where they can reach past the virtual boarders of XR, achieving a ubiquitous understanding of nature and technology.