Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 7#2 Geert Lovink 1 Jan 1993


Nathaniel Durlach, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Routledge, London 1992

Presence aims to become the professional magazine of hard-core interface designers. //The operator's performance, experience and sense of presence in teleoperator and virtual environments depend strongly on the human-machine interface and the associated environmental interactions.


Cover of Presence -

The primary focus of Presence is the understanding and design of these interactions and interfaces. That means a lot of robotica, mathematics and experimental hardware architecture. Among other things, issue number one focuses on a dataglove with force feedback, delay invariant remote manipulation and localization in virtual acoustic displays. Is this perhaps the organ of notorious East coast technocrats in the service of the Pentagon, NASA, IBM and other multinationals? In any case, the preface carefully indicates the distance to West coast hippiedom: At present, the culture associated with teleoperators is dominated by engineers, whereas the culture associated with virtual environments is dominated by individuals concerned with computer programming, media and the arts. Presence aims to unite these two groups, but there is little evidence of that in this first issue. Joseph Bates' remark that the one-sided emphasis in VR sales talk is comparable with studying celluloid instead of cinema, paper instead of novels, cathode ray tubes instead of television is hardly pervaded by Presence'''s aims. Presence is open to contributors to the field and not simply visiting journalists (as Howard Rheingold is called). We are curious to know what scientists have to report besides their non-normative discoveries about human physiology and cognition.