Virtual (im)materiality in contemporary media art
Paradoxically, virtual environments need a materiality in order to appear real to the recipients.
Only if an environment can be experienced congruently with all the senses, thus if it smells and tastes, moves, touches and sounds, it appears as an alternative reality of tangible quality. As a result, contemporary media art at the intersection of the analog and digital world is increasingly multimodal.
Those artistic works take place ON and WITH the body and consequently only emerge in the physical and sensory interaction with the recipient.
This is achieved through numerous interfaces that transport visitors into alternative virtual scenarios. If the digital age is accused of a desensualization or a reduction to the sense of sight, the opposite is the case: in the context of artistic VR environments, the sensorimotor body takes on a new meaning.
It is integrated interactively with all senses, whereby materiality can be produced within the immaterial virtual world.
Cecilia Preiß, media scientist and research associate at ZKM | Hertz-Lab, studied Literature–Art–Media and Media Studies at the Universities of Konstanz, Venice and Bochum. In 2020, she completed her PhD at the DFG Graduate Research Group on “Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation“ at the Ruhr-University Bochum with a thesis on contemporary media art and multimodality. Her research focus is on sensory perception, especially in the context of VR art, as well as on the method of artistic research against the background of documentary practices.