Virtuality in the (Visual) Text: The Two-Dimensional Simulacrum

The most obvious form of virtuality in naturalistic painting appears in two-dimensional representations of visual reality -- depictions that attempt to capture what Ruskin termed visual truths: the appearance of light and shadow, color, texture, reflection, and so on.

As Ruskin pointed out, however, such forms of virtuality exist in a reciprocal relationship with the viewer, who learns to see the world by what he or she sees in paintings. Visual representation thus uses its virtual texts to generate virtual communities of viewers.

In addition deploying that virtuality implied by any two-dimentional simulacrum of three-dimensional objects, visual texts can also use the rhetoric of the real to present an impossible space and place.

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Last modified 27 January 2005