Tag Archives: virtual bodies

Research Critique: Virtual Bodies in the Third Space

A virtual body is the state of being when inhabiting virtual reality or a virtual environment. The third space refers to a shared electronic social space where the physical and the virtual are blended. This topic is enigmatic and has been open to dispute.

Paul Sermon’s Telematic Dreaming was originally produced as a commission for the annual summer exhibition curated by the Finnish Ministry of Culture in Kajaani, with support from Telecom Finland, in June 1992.

Paul Sermon’s Telematic Dreaming (1992) turns a bed into the support of high-resolution images that might show a partner, intimately alive although being thousand kilometers away. The light-intense projection of the other results in a remarkable suggestion which turns the touch of the projected body into an intimate action.

But Sermon deliberately avoids providing an audio link so as to concentrate attention on the meeting of two bodies separated in real space but virtually conjoined: “human interaction was reduced to its simplest essence: touch, trust, vulnerability.”

Sermon aims at expanding the senses of the user, while it is obvious that the other cannot really be touched but that only swift, decisive, possibly tenderly reactive movements can experience the suggestion of touch—a moment of contemplation, as many users observed.

My response: The computerisation of human experience is generally thought to diminish the physical and emotional sides of life, yet the in the virtual world of Telematic Dreaming questions of privacy, intimacy and identity were central. Not only the performer but also many members of the public were overwhelmed by their experiences on the other bed.  The installation was paradoxical for not only using technology to provide a forum for experiencing the basics of human intimacy, but for situating this private interaction within a public domain.