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Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion
Although many people view virtual reality as a totally new phenomenon, ithas its foundations in an unrecognized history of immersive images. Indeed, thesearch for illusionary visual space can be traced back to antiquity. In this book, Oliver Grau shows how virtual art fits into the art history of illusion andimmersion. He describes the metamorphosis of the concepts of art and the image andrelates those concepts to interactive art, interface design, agents, telepresence, and image evolution. Grau retells art history as media history, helping us tounderstand the phenomenon of virtual reality beyond the hype.Grau shows how eachepoch used the technical means available to produce maximum illusion. He discussesfrescoes such as those in the Villa dei Misteri in Pompeii and the gardens of theVilla Livia near Primaporta, Renaissance and Baroque illusion spaces, and panoramas, which were the most developed form of illusion achieved through traditional methodsof painting and the mass image medium before film. Through a detailed analysis ofperhaps the most important German panorama, Anton von Werner's 1883 The Battle ofSedan, Grau shows how immersion produced emotional responses. He traces immersivecinema through Cinerama, Sensorama, Expanded Cinema, 3-D, Omnimax and IMAX, and thehead mounted display with its military origins. He also examines thosecharacteristics of virtual reality that distinguish it from earlier forms ofillusionary art. His analysis draws on the work of contemporary artists and groupsART+COM, Maurice Benayoun, Charlotte Davies, Monika Fleischmann, Ken Goldberg, AgnesHegedues, Eduardo Kac, Knowbotic Research, Laurent Mignonneau, Michael Naimark, Simon Penny, Daniela Plewe, Paul Sermon, Jeffrey Shaw, Karl Sims, Christa Sommerer, and Wolfgang Strauss. Grau offers not just a history of illusionary space but also atheoretical framework for analyzing its phenomenologies, functions, and strategiesthroughout history and into the future.