Abstract

This essay seeks to historicize the technological production of artistic virtual space, which is often misconstrued as having originated with contemporary new media art production. The author critically investigates Le Corbusier's PoÈme électronique, a 1958 automated multimedia performance commissioned by the Philips Corporation for its pavilion at the World's Fair in Belgium, as a paradigmatic example of much earlier attempts to create a spatialized, virtual experience in the spectator. The author argues that the highly disciplined spectatorship conditions of the PoÈme électronique have many suggestive parallels with those of contemporary artistic production in new media, thus offering a theoretical and historical foundation for art-historical discourse regarding the proliferation of immersive multimedia artworks in contemporary practice

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