[ISEA2011] Paper: Semi Ryu & Stefano Faralli – Crying with Virtual


This paper will explore the sensorial dimension, emotional flow and transcendental quality of virtual body in digital age. Virtual space affords an infinite depth along the Z-axis, bearing both physical and psychical dimensions.  Virtual bodies traveling on such a vast Z-axis constitute new ritual objects parting on Z, becoming increasingly remote, intangible, flexible, deconstructed, multiplied, and fragmented, challenging us continuously with new experiences of primary and emergent distance. This distance affords unprecedented experiences of the uncanny, arising from paradoxical tensions between life and death, materiality and immateriality, identity and autonomy.

The process of becoming puppet explains the continuous emotional development, perceptual changes of body and mind over time, which would be a key to understand the potentials of digital bodies in virtual space. Korean cultural psyche such as “Han” and “Jung” would be a useful model to explain the emotional flow of the process.  Han is a psychical experience particular to Korean culture, manifesting as an extreme state of grief that coextends with a fierce desire to overcome a distance or barrier induced by an oppressive social context.  Han operates along the Z-axis psychically, due to the subject’s endless, empassioned gaze towards a potentiality that seems unattainable.  With infinite Z-distance, Han achieves a strong emotional quality in recognizing the primary distance between subject and object.  Han unfolds over time, ultimately attaining an integrated embodied experience. Over time, Han stabilizes; the emotional aspect of Han becomes separated from the self, and takes objective form as an autonomous entity. Therefore, the subject can discuss her Han, just as she would discuss another’s experiences, showing Han’s transcendental quality. Han changes over time from a strong emotional state of grief, to a transcendent detachment, and at last returning to a way of regarding the grief as an observer. This models the process of becoming-puppet, in a virtual context: initially the intrinsic remoteness of the virtual experience induces a primary distance. Ultimately the virtual body emerges as an autonomous subject, and the user becomes a distant observer of the actualized performing body. The user could return as a distant spectator to her own body, from which she was alienated during the transitional phase, but returns with a completely different state of mind.

  • Prof. Semi Ryu & received BFA from Korean National University of Arts and MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, USA. She is an associate professor in the Department of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ryu is a media artist who specializes in experimental 3D animations and virtual puppetry, based on Korean shamanism and oral tradition of storytelling. Her animation won numerous awards, including “The Best Young Animated Film Award” at International Festival of Animated Film, Stuttgart, Germany. Her artworks have been widely presented in exhibitions and performances in more than 15 countries and her academic papershave been published in international journals and conferences. One of her papers “Ritualizing Interactive Media” was mentioned as exceptional quality in Leonardo review. Her virtual puppetry “Parting on Z” was recently performed at Chelsea Art Museum, New York. Currently, she is writing a chapter “Sensing without sensing” for the book “Point of Being” (editor: Derrick de Kerkhove) and working as a senior advisor for the project “Avatars for virtual heritage”, funded by National Endowment for the Humanities.  semiryu.net
  • Stefano Faralli. Research fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. His research interests include Word Sense Disambiguation and ontology learning.  wwwusers.di.uniroma1.it/~faralli

Full text (PDF) p. 2097-2103