[ISEA97] Paper: Char Davies – VR as Poesis


Char Davies approaches the medium of immersive virtual space as a philosophical arene for constructing architectures of enveloping immaterial form. Davies will show documentation of her well-known work Osmose with its dozen worlds of forest, earth, pond, abyss, code, text, and so on, while discussing various paradoxes inherent to the medium such as embodiment/ disembodiment, and 3D form/immateriality. Whereas conventional VR design reflects a cultural world-view in which empty space is filled with hard-edged objects etc., Davies’ approach embraces the medium’s paradoxes by working with trans-parency, luminosity, spatial ambiguity, and temporality. She has pioneered a body-centered user interface of breath and balance with the intent of affirming the role of the subjectively-felt physical body in virtual space. While”virtual reality” is often interpreted as a technology offering escape from earthly and bodily concerns, Davies believes that it can also be used to facilitate intensified awareness of one’s own embodied yet ephemeral being in the sensuous flowing world. Future implications of the medium are double-edged, for while such virtual environments may offer temporary refuge from urban stress, these new sites may also signal the receding of traditional contemplative rituals and non-human others from our lives.

  • Char Davies (Canada) is a practicing artist whose work explores para­doxes of embodiment, being and nature within immersive virtual space. She holds the title of Director of Visual Research at Softimage in Montreal, and is currently involved in doctoral research at CaiiA, Centre of Advanced Inquiry into the Interactive Arts, University of Wales College, Newport, Wales. Formally a painter and filmmaker, she began working with digital media when she joined the software company Softimage in 1987. Her 3D still images have been shown in Europe, North America and Australia. Her most recent work, the immersive virtual environment ‘Osmose’ (’94-’95) has been exhibited in Montreal, New York, and most recently London, and was reviewed in C21, Art In America, Wired, etc. Davies has lectured widely, including at: ISEA92/93/95; Netherlands Institute of Design (Doors of Perception conference’95); Prix Ars Electronica; NYC Museum of Modern Art; and SIGGRAPH. She is currently working on a new immersive environment at Softimage.