Where are we going and what are we doing?

The landscape of virtual reality opens up in front of us like a beautiful blue sky. But what is the place that we’ve found?

In this piece the first thing you see on the screen is a red road and like in the stories we read as children, this particular red road takes us far from home. However, all the time that we are travelling we know, even without having to think about it, that this is a journey not outwards towards the world, but inwards towards ourselves. So what I’ve made, without really intending it, is a landscape of mind, an interior world projected onto the wide open spaces of this new place - Virtual Reality.

It seems to me that we invent the technical possibilities of VR in order to create a space where our dream lives can still find a home. A place where there is confluence and tendency, where our bodies, used to walking between high rise concrete buildings, can easily find the sensuality of open space and our eyes, used to seeing advertisements stuck to the pavement in front of us, can enjoy the absurdity of misaligned objects.

It’s no accident that .sciis is projected rather than shown on a computer screen or that it’s blown up so big that the user feels that they can easily start walking into the piece, because each audience member is actually inside the piece, floating around, always changing. Everything they see - clouds, lights, streets, rain - is really nothing but themselves.

The colour and the abstract quality in this piece come from painting, specifically the colorfield paintings of Barnett Newman in the 1950s and it’s in these huge canvases - subtle, full of understated drama and optimistically present - that .sciis derives much of its inspiration.

I know it’s unfashionable but this sense of the sublime, of the transformation of the physical world, moving towards the experimental regions of physics and psychology - that’s where .sciis belongs.

The bold red of Barnett Newman and the intense blue of Yves Klein, not only out onto the road but up into the wide blue sky.

Exhibition notes for .sciis Michael Atavar 2001

‘Thus he not only lets the river flow but appreciates its exact nature’ Arnold Mindell ‘River’s Way - The Process Science Of The Dreambody’

Credits - data - Michael Atavar, programming - Pascal Auberson, voice - Mia Huang, sound recording - David Knight.

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