Illusion – Between Simulation, Emulation, and Hyper-Realism

Seminar 2019-2020


When dealing with environments that simulate reality, illusion is one of the first concepts that must be tackled. Yet how is illusion to be interpreted? Is it an unconscious deception accomplished through a false perception, or is it rather
a lusory attitude adopted in a peculiar kind of make-believe relation? What is the difference between illusion, deception, and hallucination? How does illusion turn into deception? How does deception become illusion?

    Despite it has been traditionally given a negative value, the word “illusion” is currently accorded a more and more positive meaning as one of the most important objectives of the creators and experiencers of an-icons. Should we speak
of emulation when, for instance, psychiatrists treat veterans and depressed elders by plunging them in alternative worlds? Is simulation the aim of political communicators who manipulate images supposed to represent reality? What are the challenges raised by so-called deepfakes? Is a perfect environmental illusion also the ultimate objective of videogame designers?

  The effect of illusion presupposes techniques that negate or dissimulate the mediateness of the image, making transparent the threshold between reality and image. The deriving “environmental” images presuppose the interaction with the observers; but is interactivity necessary to obtain an illusion effect? Does the multisensory quality of the interaction affect the overall illusion effect? And, since environmental images are frequently inhabited by the users’ proxies: do avatars in their vast phenomenology enhance the illusion, or rather do they diminish the resulting effect? What is the relation between illusion and the style of the image? Is hyper-realism a necessary element of illusion, simulation, and immersivity?