[ISEA97] Paper: Oliver Grau – Into The Belly of the Image: Historical Aspects of Virtual Reality


Today, Virtual Reality is seen by many as an entirely new phenomenon. However, the idea of transposing the audience in to an enclosed, illusionary visual space was not born with the invention of computer-based Virtual Reality. VR revives a central idea about the connection between man and picture, and is a constant phenomenon which can be traced back to Antiquity. Illusionary Spaces of 360° Virtual Reality can mean, for example, an area of ritual action, a private, artificial paradise or a public sphere of politically suggestive power; important aspects of the idea can be explained by focusing on historical examples – a visual history, the symptom of which is totality. Already in late republican Rome,in the second Pompeiian style,there were wall-paintings which extend the room by an apparent opening of the wall representing actual views into other spaces. A particularly forceful example is shown in one of the most famous frescos of antiquity in the Caso del Misteri at Pompeii dating from 64 B.C.

  •  Oliver Grau (Germany), Humboldt University Berlin, is an Art Historian and works in a research program at the Humboldt-University Berlin on the history of Virtual Reality. As Manager of the international media art agency DDO-Team Ltd. in Hamburg, he is involved in various exhibitions and festivals. He has published many articles and lectured widely in the field of VR-Art in international conferences (German Society of Aesthetics in Hannover, CAiiA/Newport 97 etc.) After studying Art History, Archeology, Italian Literature and Business Administration at the Universities of Hamburg, Siena (Italy) and Berlin, he received his MA in 1994 on : Die Sehnsucht, im Bild zu sein (studies on Artist, Artwork and Onlooker in the Panorama and in Cyberspace). Is finishing his Ph-Don the history and theory of the immersion-concept in Art History. Extensive research trips took him through Europe, Asia, Oceania and America.

Full text p. 27-29