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National Gallery of Canada

Éphémère by Char Davies

(Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

Char Davies, Bones (Ending III), 1996-1998
Char Davies, Winter Swamp, 1996-1998 Char Davies, Forest and Grid, 1995 Char Davies, Seed Bloom, 1996-1998
Éphémère by Char Davies premiered at the National Gallery of Canada in 1998 in a solo exhibition partly funded by the Daniel Langlois Foundation. A fluid and ambiguous set of virtual worlds and imagery awaited the "immersant" in this piece, as Davies transformed elements from nature (rock, tree, bodily organs, bones) into transparent, navigable, ephemeral environments. Navigation is based on the participant's breath and balance, which are analyzed by a complex computer system linked to the body via an interface vest and stereoscopic head-mounted display. Despite the technological encumbrances, "immersants" undergo a rather gentle series of experiences thanks to the necessary regulated breathing and Davies' contemplations on what it means to be situated in a virtual, interactive world.

Éphémère illustrates Davies' interest in expanding the borders of interactivity. According to the exhibition's organizer, Jean Gagnon, the work proves "that the new high technology so commonly associated with the male world and masculine toys can be used in the service of a different aesthetic, and that poetic principles appropriate to that aesthetic can in fact exist." (1)

Angela Plohman © 2000 FDL

(1) Jean Gagnon, "Dionysus and Reverie: Immersion in Char Davies's Environments" in Éphémère (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1998): n.p.