chapter  17
5 Pages

Towards an aesthetic of virtual reality: Gabriella Giannachi


As suggested by Margaret Morse, “[t]he concept of ‘space’ applied to computer – and other machine-generated realms – is itself a metaphor that invokes something quite different from the fundamental experience of being in a location in the physical world in a body rooted to the ground by gravity” (Morse 1998: 178). In virtual reality, the viewer is in one place and yet occupies different spaces. Moreover, the technologies of virtual reality render any discourse on presence and absence dichotomous, “irrelevant” (Hayles in Druckrey 1996: 261). This is because, in virtual reality, simulations are both present and not present, while viewers, too, are both inside and not inside the world of virtual reality (ibid.: 262). Thus, in virtual reality, body motions affect what happens in the simulation so that “one both is and is not present in the body and in the simulation” (Hayles in Moser and MacLeod 1996: 14). This suggests that in these complex simulated environments the viewer is able to exist in fragmentation, in both the real and the virtual, as both a subject (in the real) and an object (in the virtual), performing their own presence (and therefore absence) in between the two worlds.