oscar stegehuis


game modification B -  moerwijk

A virtual environment is alive and invites the inhabitants to change or affect its content. Unlike painting, photography, video and movies, which are by nature rigid, virtual space has an impermanent and free nature. It is less ‘heavy’ than traditional media and leaves room for humor and experiment. The trick is to deliver the content to the audience in such a way that these qualities emerge. When reality is simulated in a different medium, it being a painting, sculpture or another medium, it reflects on reality. The same goes for computer generated space. Because of a certain level of realism it reveals things about reality. How our lives are organized, our houses are constructed, cities have emerged, and space has been arranged. The fact is that everybody will get more and more to do with virtual space and virtual bodies.
I recreated my own neighborhood in a computer game. When walking through this virtual environment, it appears to me both as serious and light. It is serious in the sense that I explore similarities and differences between the virtual and physical space. I try to comment on the surface-tension created by racial differences and numerous arrests of potential terrorists in a small area (November 2004 - Antheunisstraat The Hague. October 2005 – Moerweg / Van Mierisstraat). Light in the sense that it is actually quite a bit of fun to run around in the area where I live, carrying a rocked launcher shooting strange creatures outside my (virtual) door.
My approach to the medium differs from that of the games industry, in the sense that I try not to conform to unwritten game rules that give the player the illusion of freedom while in fact they are restricted around every corner. I’m fascinated when things ‘go wrong’ in virtual space or I’m able to break out of the finished world into the virtual “wild”.
Basically, what I’m doing is spending time in virtual space; constructing space and objects in a virtual environment. By building my own house, my own neighborhood. I am thinking about the relationship between actual and virtual space. What does a body stand for, what does property mean in this new environment? Who controls virtual public space? Does it even exist?


Architecture, both interior and exterior, or environmental scenes devoid of people have a certain sublime quality to them that can quickly switch to a space appearing disconnected from the world. The organization of architecture suddenly becomes less obvious and the question how we relate to this space comes to mind.
An image of an environment without the reference of a human figure, or other scale defining objects, leaves us somewhat puzzled about the scale, raising questions about our relation to the presented space. If we are actually present in a physical space (like a building), we’re able to quickly measure the space by the intuitive reference to our own bodily space. When presented with image space (for instance a photo or a painting), we need a clue or indication provided by a known object we can relate to. When confronted with a virtual 3d world, a tension is created between space and bodily space because of the body remaining in a different space.
Bearing the previous in mind, the images should be perceived as a rendering or documentation not as a definitive piece of art, the actual work residing in the virtual space where there is room to maneuver.