[ISEA98] Panel: Kevin Atherton – Gallery Guide

Panel Statement

Panel: Computers in Theatre: New Dimensions for Stage, Actors & Audience

The virtual reality performance piece ‘Gallery Guide’ is related to Atherton’s work with performance art in the 1970’s, when he often used film or video in the way he now uses virtual reality, as a counterpoint to ‘real time’ performance. ‘Gallery Guide’ however would not exist without his experience of making ‘site specific’ sculpture throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. These two areas of fine art practice performance and sculpture seemingly quite disparate from one another in fact have a lot in common in their shared concern for the viewer’s position i.e their time and place. In seventies performance art ‘real time’ was a paramount issue driven by a desire to connect with the viewer’s time which was also the time the performance was taking place in. Similarly, the now much missed used term,’site specific’ became a driving force for a generation of sculptors who wanted their work to share the same place as the viewer.
“With the advent of virtual reality which forefronts both the time and the place of the viewer (who has now become the participant) I find myself ‘going against the grain’. By this I mean that rather than collude with the viewer in the merger of two realities, the one that they are really in and the virtual one, I am much more interested in disrupting this merger. This might seem at odds with the very nature of virtual reality but by reminding the viewer/participant of the differances between where they really are and where the virtual world tells them they are it is possible to create an experience of two realities simultaneously which is far richer and far more rewarding than the fantasy world of just one.” (Kevin Atherton)

  • Kevin Atherton (UK),┬áChelsea College of Art and Design, London