In 1993, Virtual Reality: An Emerging Medium,
opened at the SOHO Guggenheim Museum, one of the first exhibitions
to investigate new artistic directions in virtual reality. The
show featured two virtual worlds by Jenny Holzer. The first,
created in collaboration with engineer Ken Pimentel, was an
untitled piece, inspired by one of Samuel Beckett's short stories,
The Lost Ones. It featured a cavernous world in which
souls alternately flee from and engage the viewer. If you catch
them they speak one of Holzer's trademark truism phrases.
Holzer collaborated with Jeff Donovan on her second
world, offering a response to the violence against women in
the Bosnian war. Here, you enter and find a vast patterned desert
of striking color: bright orange earth and deep blue sky. As
you travel across the landscape, a circle of buildings appears
on the horizon. When you reach the village you see that each
building is an identical cinderblock hut. Soon you reach another
village. Again the same square, block huts, but these are lined
up in double rows like barracks. The voices here have the same
simple, flat tone, but the words are violent. Each hut harbors
a different voice. Each village has a different story to tell.
The silence of the desert seems to be watching you.