Werner Herzog, Virtual Reality and Telling Stories

I’d say that Wern­er Her­zog is one of the most cre­ative thinkers alive today, and I love to hear his con­sid­ered opin­ions on pret­ty much any sub­ject. For exam­ple, chick­ens. True to form, this inter­view on the sub­ject of vir­tu­al real­i­ty is fas­ci­nat­ing.

I am con­vinced that this is not going to be an exten­sion of cin­e­ma or 3-D cin­e­ma or video games. It is some­thing new, dif­fer­ent, and not expe­ri­enced yet.

Find­ing a new sto­ry­telling tech­nique will be inte­gral to the suc­cess of VR. Pixar’s Ed Cat­mull also spoke about this recent­ly:

It’s not sto­ry­telling. The fact that you’ve changed the tech­nol­o­gy, and peo­ple are excit­ed about it, doesn’t change the under­ly­ing dif­fi­cul­ty of the com­pelling nar­ra­tive sto­ry. Just like books aren’t the same things as movies.

But Herzog’s real insight comes when he talks about where we are with VR today:

Nor­mal­ly, in the his­to­ry of cul­ture, we have new sto­ries and nar­ra­tions and then we start to devel­op a tool. Or we have visions of won­drous new architecture—like, let’s say, the muse­um in Bil­bao, or the opera house in Sydney—and tech­nol­o­gy makes it pos­si­ble to ful­fill these dreams. So you have the con­tent first, and then the tech­nol­o­gy fol­lows suit. In this case, we do have a tech­nol­o­gy, but we don’t have any clear idea how to fill it with con­tent.

There’s also a clas­sic piece of Her­zo­gian dia­log:

The Pruss­ian war the­o­reti­cian Clause­witz, in Napoleon­ic times, famous­ly said, “Some­times war dreams of itself.” Does vir­tu­al real­i­ty dream of itself? Do we dream or express and artic­u­late our dreams in vir­tu­al real­i­ty?

The inter­view is worth read­ing in it’s entire­ty, and leaves me real­ly keen to see his next film, Lo and Behold, where he con­sid­ers the inter­net.


Also pub­lished on Medi­um.