Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Is it real? No, it's Phua Chu Kang

Once again, while trawling the web, I came across someone "studying" my past work.

Previously, it was an old New Paper column. Now it's an old Phua Chu Kang episode I wrote, produced and directed.

It was the highest rated regular episode of the final season (thanks to a Mr Bean lead-in) aired during Christmas 2006.

The episode is called VR Man.

Even though the story is hokum, I'm particularly proud of this episode because of how the 3-D computer animation was integrated into the episode, which I don't think has ever been done before in local TV or ever since. (Look out for a cool blooper at the very end.)



Some kids decided to analyse it for what purpose I don't know and posted the analysis on a blog last year.

VR Man forever!

ANALYSIS OF 'VIRTUAL REALITY' EPISODE - THEMATIC APPROACH

"Virtual Reality" Episode - Simulation

Phua Chu Beng (PCB) has a new device: VRHMD - Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Display where he is able to experience a simulation in a small device!

It is a device where we can be in a 'total immerse in a interactive computer simulated graphic environment' which gets to "show the client what the house looks like before it is being built".

Instead of just a drawing (2Dimension) of the house, he is able to experience stepping into the house (3Dimension) as he views the house from the VR HMD.

This is reflective of what we have learnt about the simulacra - a representation of the real which is different from the original.

By viewing the simulation of the house from the VR HMD, PCB is able to get a feel of the house as if he has been there before.

Like what PCB says "total immerse in a interactive computer-simulated graphic environment!", "like the matrix movie", it gives us almost the same simulation as the real everywhere we go, and we do not need to be in the house to have a taste of what it is like!

This VR HMD blurs the line between the real and the virtual real, and PCB is unsure whether there is a fixed reality as the real is re-represented by another medium (in this case, the VR HMD) again.

"This actually puts you in the house... It is a computer simulation of the house.. Oh so it is not real.. No it is virtually real, that's why it is called virtual reality!"

There is also a case of irony where PCB remarks that "we are not talking about some stupid local TV show here, we're talking about the real thing! Or the virtual real thing..."

However, the TV show is actually a simulation of the lives of a typical Singaporean family who is undergoing a simulation through a virtual reality device! So, do we consider it as a real thing, a virtual real thing or none?

Just some food for thoughts here :)

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