Char Davies's Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence of Spatiality

Char Davies's Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence of Spatiality

LAURIE McROBERT
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 290
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442684171
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  • Book Info
    Char Davies's Immersive Virtual Art and the Essence of Spatiality
    Book Description:

    This original study provides us with an important exposition of two of Char Davies? acclaimed projects and an exploration of the future impact of digital virtual art on our worldviews.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8417-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    This book is about the impact of Canadian artist Char Daviesʹ immersive virtual art and the powerful dynamics encountered by people when they experience it. Never before in history have artists presented their art in immersive virtual environments, and never again will viewing 2D art be the same. In this book I concentrate not only on the aesthetics of Daviesʹ digital art but also on the phenomenon of the spatiality in which not only the art forms but we, the participants, float. Immersive virtual art is an emerging technological art form that, in effect, immerses participants in virtual space in...

  7. 1 The Dynamics of Immersive Virtual Art
    (pp. 11-29)

    Although many ʹnew mediaʹ artists exhibited their work during the International Symposium for Electric Art (ISEA) conference in Montreal in September 1995, none impressed me as profoundly as the immersive virtual art of Char Davies.

    In 1979, Davies, who began her career as a painter, primarily of landscape works (ca. 1978–87) (see, e.g., plate BW-3), approached the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) about making a documentary film about her experience of painting loggers at work in a logging camp.¹ They accepted her proposal, and after the film was made she began to work on several more film-related projects...

  8. 2 Digital Knowing versus Digital Being
    (pp. 30-41)

    Let us begin by considering whether Daviesʹ immersive virtual art is in line with what Richard Coyne calls the ʹtechnoromanticist movement.ʹ Davies claims her art is intent on subverting the conventional effects of digital technology and its use by the militaristic/scientific/Western/industrial paradigm. But does it fall into what Richard Coyne in his bookTechnoromanticism¹ describes as new romanticist dynamics?

    In his book Coyne identifies what he believes to be the dominant dynamics underlying cyberage computer culture. In so doing, he focuses almost exclusively on his thesis that technoromanticism is simply a continuation of a neoromanticism that follows on the heels...

  9. 3 Heidegger, Davies, and Technological Essence
    (pp. 42-57)

    In this chapter we put aside our discussion about neoromanticism and human essence (although they continue to be prominent themes throughout the book and are never ignored) and focus instead on Heideggerʹs notion of theessence of technologyand how he differentiates it from technology per se. My claim is that immersion in Daviesʹ virtual art ʹunconcealsʹ and allows us to grasp what Heidegger means by an essence of technology. Concomitantly, it underlines and defines what he means by an essence that is substantial (which I have labelledsubstantial essenceand about which more will be said below). When we...

  10. 4 Substantial Essence
    (pp. 58-74)

    In the previous chapter I used Heideggerʹs work to introduce an essence that was derived from earth, that had substance to it instead of the usual Platonic or spiritual connotations we are more philosophically accustomed to in the West. Against Heideggerʹs essence that was substantial, we examined whether Daviesʹ digital art was a vehicle forsubstantial essence. Linked to truth, Heidegger understands essence as something that is concealed by earth or unconcealed by it whenever it is ready to give up its secrets. I argued that inOsmoseandEphémèretruth is uncovered when an immersant discovers a substantial essence...

  11. 5 On Up/Down Paradigms and the ʹEssence of Spatialityʹ
    (pp. 75-92)

    In this chapter we will address the essence of spatiality and two categories of space in Daviesʹ immersive virtual art. First is the space that must be navigated within the up/down dynamics that dominate bothOsmoseandEphémère. (Horizontal dynamics are also present in these works, but they are less apparent sensorially.) Second are the feelings immersants experience in immersive virtual spatiality that changes their notion of space ʹforever.ʹ

    Northrop Frye, who has been called the architect of the spiritual world, explains up/down dynamics from a mythological viewpoint that represents movement through an imaginative vertical universe. The space we encounter...

  12. 6 The Essence of Cyberspace and Immersive Virtual Spatiality
    (pp. 93-107)

    In the preceding chapter we identified the innate up/down themes in the mythological history of humankind and concluded that Char Daviesʹ artwork falls into this perennial pattern with one major difference: her works do not focus entirely on the vertical aspects of up/down dynamics but are bound to the body and nature and therefore also engage cyclical rhythms. In this chapter we will look at the differences between cyberspace and immersive virtual space, and hence throw more light onto the meaning ofessential spatiality. We will begin with a brief look at Margaret Wertheimʹs overview on the subject of the...

  13. 7 Instincts and the Unconscious: Digital Transcendence and Essential Spatiality
    (pp. 108-124)

    Examining the dynamics inOsmoseandEphémère, one cannot help but marvel that an artist has intuitively created an immersive dynamic that is destined to end up engaging feelings and the brainʹs silent spaces. We have just to recall Daviesʹ words quoted in the previous chapter, that as an artist she is ʹinterested in recreating a sense of lived, felt space that encircles one with an enveloping horizon and presses closely upon the skin, a sensuous space, subjectively, bodily perceived.ʹ

    It is this ʹlived, felt spaceʹ that I examine next from the point of view of the work of three...

  14. 8 Speculative Inquiries into the Elements of Char Daviesʹ Immersive Virtual Art
    (pp. 125-142)

    Because my approach to Daviesʹ work is multifaceted, I could not, while researching, ignore the related issues that infringe on the subject, particularly those relating to light, vision, colour, wavelengths, dreams, and drugged states. In this last chapter I want to examine how the dynamics ofOsmoseandEphémèreemploy them, and what role immersive virtual art might play in the creation of consciousness.

    If dreams are basically survival mechanisms, alerting us symbolically to the underlying problems we need to attend to in the real world, then has Davies discovered a way to experience the instinctive survival dimension, not as...

  15. Epilogue
    (pp. 143-148)

    By virtue of its evolving nature, this book was not written with a presupposed ending in mind. The major thesis is thatessential spatiality, a spatiality and time different from the Einsteinian relativistic notion of space and time, can be experienced through Char Daviesʹ immersive virtual art. I have argued that Daviesʹ art has proven to be a good way to access a genre of consciousness usually unavailable to us except in dreams, through drug ingestion, or during meditative states. Hence, I proposed that since immersive virtual spatiality evokes essential spatiality and since it is part of instinctive consciousness, we...

  16. Appendix
    (pp. 149-150)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 151-184)
  18. Index
    (pp. 185-190)