Reading Response #2

The piece The Golden Calf by Jeffrey Shaw pushes the human perception of space through virtual reality (95).  Space is a complex concept that humans deal with on an every day basis.  Whether it is through the spaces humans live in, the negative space of something like a window, or the space an object takes up.  It even becomes a more abstract idea when people start talking about outer space and cyberspace.

Shaw plays with the idea that the human brain can distinguish between a flat image and a 3-Dimensional object.  He takes a golden calf and virtually places it on a pedestal.  He has a flat screen placed on a real pedestal.  The audience can then pick up the screen and move it around the pedestal.  When the person moves the screen, it acts as a window to the calf sculpture, as if the calf was on the actual pedestal.  In order to make the 2-Dimensional image even more realistic, he used photographs to reflect images of the room on the calf itself (95).  The viewer is to get the sense that the sculpture is actually there.  Once they set down the device, the calf is gone and so is the alternate reality.  Shaw uses virtual reality, or a type of cyberspace to connect physical reality to a digital art world that only exists within the electronic device.

Without the viewers’ interaction, the piece cannot exist to its fullest intent.  It requires that a person move around the empty pedestal with the small monitor.  If the viewer is clever enough, or imaginative enough, they can get the sense that the calf is truly right in front of them.  The brain could perceive that it exists within the physical space, and the only thing that would disprove the virtual reality is to actually touch the sculpture.  In which case, the brain would correct this illusion and only feel a flat screen.  The viewers’ perception is what brings this cyberspace piece into its full meaning.

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1 Comment »

  1. sporteous Said:

    Very good, well discussed and interpreted.


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