Science fiction becomes virtual reality

vecI have a new print in my office. It’s called ‘Small Science Fiction Self-Portrait’ and is by Maria Lassnig (1919-2014) [see:]. I am disappointed to admit that I had never heard of her until I went to a special exhibition at the Tate Liverpool a few weeks ago, which featured her work and that of Francis Bacon. I was expecting the works by Bacon to be the main attraction but instead I thought Lassnig ‘stole the show’. Nearly all of her paintings in the exhibition were self-portraits in which she attempts to represent on canvas her ‘body sensation’ or ‘body awareness’. This seems to echo the synaesthesia pursued by Georgia O’Keeffe when she represented her feelings from various senses in her paintings [see my post entitled ‘Engineering Synaesthesia‘ on September 21st, 2016].  Two of Lassnig’s paintings resonanted with me: one, which was on the front of the programme, called Lady with Brain was painted in 1991 and shows the head of a lady with a proportion of her brain outside of her skull – not in a damaged way but as if it had grown there. This reminded me of the ideas on our increasing use of out-of-skull memory and processing power in our mobile devices that I wrote about under the heading ‘Thinking out of Skull’ [see my post of that title on March 18th, 2015]. The second is the print in my office, painted in 1995, that shows the artist wearing a virtual reality headset that looks almost identical to those we use in our Virtual Engineering Centre. I was amazed by Lassnig’s vision.

4 thoughts on “Science fiction becomes virtual reality

  1. Beverly Johnson

    Very interesting and informative blog post, thank you. I hadn’t heard of her either, nor Bacon, alas! Flipping through various internet articles I managed to look at some of her works. She could almost be called a cyber-punk artist. Except for the technological aspsects, her body explorations remind me a bit of some of the works by Frieda Kahlo. I did find that a major exhibition of Lassnig’s works is in Los Angeles until December 31, 2016, but another alas, that’s on the other side of the U.S. from me.

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