The same argument applies to two-dimensional images, which are as artificial as black-and-white images. 2-D representations of our 3-D world are cultural artifacts. This is demonstrated by anthropological studies in which people, who have no previous experience of photographs and paintings, have trouble interpreting them.

      We live in a three-dimensional world and the eye is therefore designed to perceive objects in 3D. Adding this third dimension of depth to the current two-dimensional movie is the next logical step toward a more accurate representation of the world-as-we-perceive-it in our everyday experience. Indeed, the third dimension is often used as a metaphor for reality. In film scripts, an unreal character is often described as being two-dimensional.

      Edwin Abbott explored worlds with less than three dimensions in his novel Flatland and other writers have explored worlds with more than three dimensions. However, those other dimensions are merely aspects of the narration in our mind movies. To be at home in our objective world, we need to perceive and conceive in three dimensions.

      In film, a foray into the third dimension has of course, been taken before. There was a run of three-dimensional movies in the 1950's. That first wave of innovation receded and a second one is currently building. The timing of these waves of interest is not purely a matter of chance. They seem to be a symptom of the sailboat effect. When the steamboat was introduced, there was a dramatic surge in the efficiency of sailboats in response to this challenge. The 1950s wave in 3-D film was a response to the challenge of the introduction of television. This second wave is a response to the challenge of the recent spate of further innovations in video technology - videocassette recorders, videodiscs, high-definition television, pay-TV, cable-TV and so on.

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