Spaced Out – Reflection #1 by Valérie Félix

January 17, 2020

This text was written on my aquatic VR experience, Spaced Out, by Valérie Félix, a Swiss-based digital art historian.

For the artist Pierre Friquet, the main reference to the famous film “Voyage dans la lune” (1902) by Georges Méliès set up successive layers, a process that is typical of his work. The theme of exploring a fantastic universe remains important in the aesthetics and narrative aspects of the work, however it does not take over his whole project. By this reflection, Friquet questions the inherent possibility of the cinema’s destabilization on reality. And that is why his artistic project is so close to this film – if virtual reality is not, above all, a disruption of our reality, what is it?

Seen too often as a threat to our own reality, or rather embodying the utopian promise of a better world, virtual reality is approached as an element that creates a gap between true and false. Inevitably, this has an impact on our virtual consumption. Whereas if we associate these entities both called reality, this distance established by distinction would reduce. It is in this sense that Friquet’s work constantly sets up anchorages between us and our different environments. 

Seen as conflicting layers – water and moon – psyche and conscious – globality and individuality … but also reality and virtuality, they form a heterogeneity that is recomposed by Friquet, in order to make this border more porous, but also more fantastic. Then, diving into the water with a VR headset (world’s first VR underwater headset) for a “Voyage dans la lune” becomes an experimental pretext, a journey, an encounter, a metanarrative with all those opposites. We become, as Friquet likes to call it, a “psychonaut” a hybrid between astronaut and psyche, exploring unknown territories. 

The connection of these multiple interfaces allows us to deconstruct structures of the impossible, and VR has this inherent capacity to embody such a position. Wearing a headset, getting immersed by water to see beyond, are elements that can be associated to a ritual that positions us, forces us to reflect on our own individuality, our actions, our way of being in the world.

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