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totality—the option of sensual and awareness-altering fusion with the image medium. This represents a huge difference to, for example, non-hermetic «trompe l'oeil» illusionistic painting where it is easy to recognize the medium utilized, or to images and image spaces constrained by a frame, such as theater, to a certain degree the diorama, and particularly television. Within the limits or framework of their form, these image media symbolically stage the aspect of difference. They leave the observer outside and are thus not suitable for presenting virtual realities in a way that deceives and overwhelms the senses. For this reason, I shall not consider these media here.
In virtual realities, to the panoramic view is added the sensorimotor exploration of an image sphere that conveys the impression of being inside a ‹living› environment. Interactive media are changing our idea of the two-dimensional image into one of a multisensory, interactive space of experience located within a processual context. It opens up objects and image spaces that until now were impossible to depict.
The parameters of time and space can be modified at will and the virtual space can be used for modeling and gathering experience. Particularly the possibility of communicating with and accessing such image spaces via global data networks, together with the technique of telepresence, offers a range of new options for immersion. Further, a significant proportion of the image resources of the natural environment are being merged with artificial images in mixed realities, where it is often impossible to distinguish between original and simulacrum. I do not wish to imply that computer-generated virtual art invariably gravitates toward maximum illusion: on the contrary, artists are continually engaged in attempts to subvert this basic tendency and to critically interrogate illusionism, interface design and natural interaction processes in order to discover new aesthetic options. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that virtual art definitely operates within the field of illusion and immersion —the paradigm of the medium. This fact, whether treated critically or used strategically by the artists, is the foundation upon which this art genre erects its works. The potential of virtual artworks for visualization far