Book Review: “What You See Is What You Feel” by Koert van Mensvoort
A fellow MoM’er already wrote a good review on the PhD thesis What You See Is What You Feel by Koert van Mensvoort. Read the MoM review here and download the full book here. I would like to give an extension to this review with my own thoughts.
Although the thesis is done at the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e) the thesis provides a “social-cultural context” which provides the reader a lightweight but still refreshing introduction to media theories in relation to simulation, virtuality and reality in the era of the homo desktopus (p.20) – though I think the homo desktopus is increasingly less suitable due to ubiquitous computing (more on that later). When I read the prologue, Baudrillards concepts of Simulacra and Simulations and McLuhan’s technological determinism in The Medium Is The Message were the two main lines of thought. Mcluhan’s views could be found in where Van Mensvoort states we increasingly do not perceive media as media anymore but part of our experience interaction; media is the message. We have become passive to media, as we are not actively breaking down mediation as it has become inherent. But I thought it was strange they were not mentioned anywhere. It was when reading the epilogue when it became clear that Van Mensvoort actually shares McLuhan’s definition of media (p. 123). Overall the theory provides an interesting read for everyone as simulation and reality is very interesting indeed, and provides a superb example of combining media theory with technical research and application.
For readers with a humanist background in media the discussion by Van Mensvoort are not provoking as the thesis does not offer new insights to the discourse. The theories discussed to give the thesis a social-cultural context do feel like revisiting concepts once read before. Perhaps this isn’t strange as this context is discussed mainly in the prologue, introduction, conclusion and epilogue of the thesis. The thesis itself is based on technical and empirical research. Here I would recommend watching The Woods Smell Like Shampoo as it is more of an artistic expression by Koert van Mensvoort in collaboration with others. But what is most interesting is the outcome, and concluding from Van Mensvoort’s thesis (optically simulated haptic feedback increases productivity in WIMP environments) and my own experience, optically simulated haptic feedback does invoke rather strange but realistic experience. Check it out on powercursor.com, it is pretty cool.
What You See Is What You Feel
By Koert van Mensvoort, 2009