The modern video game is already a virtual world: players sit down, grab the controls, and careen through the chaos flashing before them on the screen. In some games the entire structure moves; the seat tilts, the pod vibrates and shakes... [more]
The modern video game is already a virtual world: players sit down, grab the controls, and careen through the chaos flashing before them on the screen. In some games the entire structure moves; the seat tilts, the pod vibrates and shakes in response to encounters with enemies and collisions with obstacles.
Games are not usually considered art -- they suffer from their association with the likes of Atari and Nintendo. But the technology that developed them has inspired a number of artists who've endeavored to make the immersive medium their own, moving away from game format towards the construction of a total aesthetic experience -- an interactive experience of Virtual Reality that mutates as the participant moves.
The idea of Virtual Reality is that you can get inside it, feel it from within, be utterly immersed and enveloped by it. The separation of subject and object, of viewer and work of art -- a separation inescapable in almost every other medium -- is abolished in Virtual Reality. The movements of the participants alter the world they experience, as subject and object become mutually intertwined, tangled inextricably together in the space and time of the art. In Virtual Reality, the art object opens up and you enter.
The work of Char Davies is an exemplary case. Inspired by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, she seeks in her art to break down the Cartesian distinction between individual and environment, body and mind, extension and emotion. The participant (which she prefers to call the "immersant") is able to move through a virtual environment merely by breathing: breathe in and you rise, breathe out and you fall.
As opposed to the Cartesian grid of geometric lines she composes her habitats out of balls of light, points of intensity that spread out from their center and bathe everything in tranquil luminosity. She seeks to make the experience of her art like scuba diving, to saturate the senses and immerse the body in a plenum of sensations.
Virtual Reality as a form of art has only begun to be explored. Will we soon be able to experience virtual sex, virtual love, or even virtual death? And would this be considered art? Is virtual art moving towards a simulation of experience so thorough that it will become indistinguishable from experience itself? [show less]