By way of wearable technology—a headset with movement tracking capabilities, 3D stereoscopic images and headphones with surround sound—we can now experience total immersion within a work of art. This triggers a perceived shift for the viewer, from the real to the virtual, and provides a point of access within which to discover a hyperreal world.
In Orbital vanitas, Shaun Gladwell offers us a captivating simulation and the opportunity to experience ourselves as beings without a physical form. While virtual reality shifts our conscious attention to another world, our bodies remain here on Earth. As a result of this mind-body split, it is equally fascinating to observe those who are ‘doing’ a virtual-reality piece—their faces covered by black goggles, performing strange motions and appearing to have an out-of-body experience.
Virtual reality provides a hyperreal vision for the gallery-going spectator but also transforms their body into another type of hyperreal figure, one to be observed and interpreted as keenly as the other figurative sculptures on display. This new body is a cyborg, a composite figure in which the human and technological are intertwined—a hyperreal figure in and of our contemporary era.