Mixed Realities

“The virtual space is a large scale society of agents. Our work in this area hinges on both multi-agent systems and on artificial life.”

— Walter Van de Velde, 1997


When we think of the words ‘media art’, we usually think of digital or analog artworks which showcase the many wonders of technology at work. What we often fail to realize, however, is that ‘media art’ embodies more than just the subject being shown – or the message that it is trying to convey, for that matter. I think that the audience is also part of the artwork,  in that the emotional response can serve as the artwork’s purpose. In other words, “the experience… can be something you do rather than something you are given” (Rokeby, 1998). Mixed-reality artworks arguably take this notion a step further, in that they do not just convey that purpose; in doing so, they immerse the audience in such a way that the concept of reality is distorted, if not shattered altogether.

Immersion is just one of several concepts embody the characteristics of mixed realities, as depicted in artworks such as “Appearance and Disappearance 2012” by Osaka Takuro. I feel that by immersing oneself into an artwork, he or she can acquire a strong experience out of it. However, I also feel that the extent to which the audience is induced into immersion is dependent on the artist’s intention. The notion of the “virtual space” is another aspect which plays a key role in shaping mixed realities, as it makes connections with the real and virtual worlds. Examples of these connections include virtual reality (VR), or augmented reality (AR). With the advent of such devices as PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift, the ability to immerse oneself into an alternate reality has become more accessible than ever; artworks such as “Ixian Gate” by Jess Johnson and “The City of Forking Paths” by George Bures Miller and Janet Cardiff only prove this notion.

It is true that the “virtual space” takes up a large proportion of known space in this day and age, and that it is only possible to acquire a mixed reality through synthetic means. I believe, in fact, that it is impossible to achieve a mixed reality without using something digital. Given the changes that have happened since Van de Velde’s time – in addition to VR’s “limitless potential” as a creative tool – one can only assume at this point that VR – and other technologies like it – will “surpass predecessor interactive technologies” like touchscreens and video streaming (Burdea and Coiffet, 2003).





Van de Velde, W. (1997). Co-habited mixed realities. In Proceedings of the IJCAI (Vol. 97).

NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC]. (2015). ICC | “Appearance and Disappearance 2012” – OSAKA Takuro (2012). [online] Available at: http://www.ntticc.or.jp/en/archive/works/appearance-and-disappearance-2012/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Rokeby, D. (1998). The Construction of Experience: Interface as Content. Digital Illusion: Entertaining the Future with High Technology.

Ngv.vic.gov.au. (2016). Jess Johnson | NGV. [online] Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/jess-johnson/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Burdea, G.C. and Coiffet, P. (2003). Virtual reality technology (Vol. 1). John Wiley & Sons.

City Art Sydney. (2016). The City of Forking Paths – City Art Sydney. [online] Available at: http://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/the-city-of-forking-paths/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].


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