For over one hundred years photography and film were the leading media. From the start they served not only to inform and entertain but were also media of scientific research and documentation. That’s also why these reproduction techniques were associated with the notions of objectivity and contemporaneity – whereas images created by drawing and painting indicated subjectivity and the transrational. Apparently today computer animation is taking the lead. Following the Gulf War in 1991, the US-military decided not to film the determining battle of »73 Easting«, but to document it using computer animation.
Computer animations aspire after the photographic-filmic method of representation and with each advance it becomes clear how far they still are from the ideal. In the program Virtual Battle Space 2, which is used by the US-armed forces for deployment training purposes, the tanks churn up dust when they roll over the ground and no dust when they are on asphalt roads. However, they create the same amount of dust whether the terrain is very over-grown or with little vegetation.
There is hardly any differentiation between the texture of depicted objects, stone can be distinguished from metal, but one stone appears the same as another and the metals all have the same shine.
But the military training programs that are referred to here are based on real geographic data. One can navigate within the program: walk through the landscape or drive and view the landscape from various arbitrary viewpoints. The instructors can place explosive traps or enemies. Fire can be opened on those taking part in the exercise and they can return fire. The weapon’s firing range is equivalent to the distance in reality. These features apparently compensate for the lack of photo-realistic representation. A computer animation is not just the simulation of appearances but also a data-gadget that makes the fastest possible calculations and visualizes them immediately.