Virtual Imaginations Require Real Bodies

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  • Virtual reality (VR) works of art conjure up ideas such as virtual sex, virtual frontiers, and to some, disembodiment. Those who uphold the notion of disembodiment claim that works of art that embrace VR technology necessarily encourage a state that affirms the Cartesian duality in which people can leave Earth, nature, and body behind. I counter this notion because I do not believe that the mind can be separated from the body; rather, the two are inexplicably intertwined.

    Although this “Gibsonesque” scenario is rich with metaphors and metaphysical implications, I suggest that any virtual space is an embodied experience because the imagination of the artist and the viewer refer back to the body, to nature, and to the Earth. From the physical reality of Earth and our bodies, we may understand and perceive many more realities, perhaps facilitated by virtual space art installations. In fact, I maintain that even the virtual is real. It is a perception that is a real experience, which makes reference to our encounters with the physical world and our flesh.

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