For decades, the optimal adaptation of visual performance technology to cognitive and sensory human faculties has been of essential interest for art, research and industry. Scott Fisher describes a few stages in the history of reality-simulation and then deals with the VIEW-system which takes the observer into an interactive "virtual" environment. The application of this system ranges from telepresence / remote manipulation, commercial application in medicine, architecture, entertainment to possible tele-cooperation by virtual presence.
"Watch out for a remarkable new process called SENSORAMA! It attempts to engulf the viewer in the stimuli of reality. Viewing of the color stereo film is replete with binaural sound, colors, winds, and vibration. The original scene is recreated with remarkable fidelity. At this time, the system comes closer to duplicating reality than any other system we have seen!" (SENSORAMA, Mort Heilig, July 1964.)
For most people, "duplicating reality" is an assumed, if not obvious goal for any contemporary imaging technology. The proof of the "ideal" picture is not being able to discern object from representation - to be convinced that one is looking at the real thing. At best, this Judgement is usually based on a first order evaluation of "ease of identification"; i. e. realistic pictures should resemble what they represent. But resemblance is only part of the effect. In summing up prevailing theories on realism in images, Perkins comments:
"Pictures inform by packaging information in light in essentially the same form that real objects and scenes package it and the perceiver unwraps that package in essentially the same way."
What is most limited in contemporary media is the literal process involved in "unwrapping" the image. Evaluation of image realism should also be based on how closely the presentation medium can simulate dynamic, multimodal perception in the real world . A truly informative picture, in addition to merely being an informational surrogate, would duplicate the physicality of confronting the real scene that it is meant to represent. The image would move beyond simple photo-realism to immerse the viewer in an interactive, multisensory display environment. Methods to implement and evaluate these interdependent factors contributing to image realism lie in the emerging domain of Media Technology.