Virtual Illusions engage the senses at Laval Virtual
By Fabien Fabbula on 14 March 2019
From kinetic and op art that emerged in the 1960s to relational aesthetics theorized by Nicolas Bourriaud, illusion is a means of expression that is popular among contemporary artists. Now that immersive technologies are increasingly accessible, the field of unconventional perceptions and the art of experience is extending to new illusions: virtual illusions.
What exactly is an illusion? The great professor at the Collège de France, Alain Berthoz, considers that illusions, far from being an anomaly, are the "best possible hypothesis"* the brain can offer. The field encompasses the rapture of the young and old alike procured by magicians, as well as illusions of scientific origin such as the "rubber hand illusion", an oddly humorous scientific experiment that is very popular on the Internet.
The artist and curator Judith Guez is well acquainted with illusions. She chose this theme for the Art & VR Gallery exhibition during Laval Virtual following a substantial thesis on the subject in 2015. 500 pages examine how this newish medium, virtual reality, extends the artistic and scientific possibilities of illusion.
She found virtually endless possibilities: not only do real illusions work perfectly well in the virtual world but above all new illusions are possible. Anything is possible: body changes, distorted physical matter, variations in space/time, etc.! As illustrated, for example, by the incredible experiences created by the pioneering VR researcher Mel Slater who demonstrates out-of-body experiences and changing perception.
Immerged in these illusions, above all you realise that our reality is shaped by our habits and limitations in perceiving things. In turn, virtual reality helps us to look at reality from a new perspective, a way perhaps of ‘re-enchanting’ how we look at things.
Virtual Illusion/Real Illusion is the theme of the 2 nd Recto VRso festival of art and virtual reality at Laval Virtual from 20 th to 24 th March 2019 and the exhibition at Laval Theatre from 8 th to 26 th April.
*Alain Berthoz, Le Sens du Mouvement. p264. Odile Jacob. 1997