Chameleon Gallery is pleased to present the group exhibition Virtually Real Bodies. With the implementation of various digital media, from virtual reality to augmented reality, artists explore the relationship between subjects and objects formally, conceptually, and socially. Presented artworks speculate the digital mediation of human bodies, and the experiences of corporeal virtualization are highlighted through the utilization of immersive media.
We are in the age with the infiltration of the increasingly number of digital media, and our bodies are constantly reconfigured by them. There is a long history in discussing the digital manipulation of bodies. Juyi Mao, Nandan He, and Wenkai Li inherit this long tradition and use video as a virtual space in recalibrating bodies within the current social context. In Mao’s Untitled, footages from different places are paralleled and layered in re-organizing a new narrative. The specific references provide a unique critical perspective in the relationship among the human body, desire, and mass media. In He’s No Nose Know, the interior nose is exaggerated and reoriented. This disorientation of human organ becomes a metaphor in looking at our fragmented bodies. Li’s Dreamland, differently, explores the spiritual perspective of human body. The dream space, from Li’s perspective, is a virtual space which is closely related to the physical space.
Digital mediation becomes even more significant with the popularity of immersive media in recent years. In Tang’s piece, audiences can sit on a hairy chair and experience this immersive video piece, which reveals female hair as a cultural taboo. Physical artificial hair meets with virtual videos composed by various hair contents, bringing up the question about the perception of the female body physically and virtually within a specific social and cultural context. This piece becomes a statement on perception of female body, yet it is more likely a personal diary addressing Tang’s own experience as a female artist. Privitera’s Savior Tech addresses how technology affects human bodies more directly. By utilizing artificial game languages in the virtual reality spaces, audiences can encounter the uncanny virtual environment. Virtual reality becomes the target and tool in criticizing digital manipulation. Virtual reality is a multi-layered space and gives audiences opportunities in experiencing the multiplicities of their sensories. By bringing audiences in different physical and virtual locations, in Ryan Cherewaty’s This Time is not the Place, he intends to explore the limits of human sensory experience. Virtual Reality experience is confrontational. The virtual spaces constructed by artists are measured by audiences’ bodies. From the female’s intimate space to uncanny digital spaces, audiences are placed in immersive environments, yet this immersiveness becomes a powerful weapon to artists in commenting on how digitality affects us. Different from these virtual reality pieces, the confrontation is portrayed in Guo’s AR piece in a minimal way. When audiences approach the virtual sculpture, the sensor will sense the audience’s body and affect the movement of the virtual sculpture. Guo’s artwork removes the spectacular appearance of VR pieces but rethinks the relational aesthetics formally in digital art. The body is constantly deconstructed and reconstructed by digital media, and it is hard to perceive it as a singular one. It might be true that the fragmented body is becoming virtual, yet it is associated with the physical space firmly. The binary between virtual and real does not exist, and bodies live in between.