Barbara Jazbec (SI) – Captured In-Betwixt

What happens when something that should be virtually made is instead made in the real, physical world? If it is exists in both virtual and real environments, can it still be considered virtual? What is the difference between what is real in virtual reality and what is artificial?

Masks have been used by human beings since ancient times for the purpose of rituals and the embodiment of natural forces. They were, in a way, ancient forms of avatars. In the modern age of technology, an avatar can be a virtually-built body – a mask that grew to encapsulate our entire form. Such avatars are often used as a tool of self-presentation online and in the virtual world, and tell the audience what kind of character is being portrayed. They are a representation of an entity, of a person, of you – in a virtual space. It is something that embodies something else. In my work I use masks as a transitional tool that enables such role play and identity shifts. I question the power of virtuality and embodiment, how real and immersive the virtual space is becoming and how easily blurred are the boundaries between real and artificial for our brains to perceive. The virtual world in my work is deeply connected to the viewer’s inner world and to their emotions. The viewer is embodied in a body they imagine and the virtual environment causes real emotions. All this is built with feelings that are based on the movements of the visual surrounding in the 360-degree video. I try to find this boundary by mixing moving image with a new, immersive 360-degree video – a combination that creates a virtual experience that puts the viewer in the very center of the story, becoming part of the video rather than only watching it.