Tim Cowlishaw

Designer, Researcher, Technologist

In Parallax (2023)

Collaboration with Sally Golding & Matt Spendlove

A woman wearing a VR headset, standing in a darkened space behind a translucent screen onto which are being projected green and red geometric shapes

An immersive work combining projection, virtual reality and sound, commissioned for the New York Museum of the Moving Image’s retrospective on artist, filmmaker and inventor, Jose Val del Omar: Cinema of Sensations: The Never-Ending Screen of Val del Omar.

Sally was commissioned to respond to the work of Jose Val del Omar and invited Matt and I to collaborate with her. The resulting work, In Parallax draws on Val del Omar’s idea of the technique of desbordamiento panorámico (apanoramic overflowing) of the screen which Val del Omar used to great effect in his own work – attempting to extrapolate his technique of visual overflow into three dimensions with an installation that blended an immersive VR environment with projections and sound in the gallery space.

Beyond just being inspired by specific devices or techniques in Val del Omar’s work, we were specifically drawn to his particular background and perspective as both an artist and an inventor – one whose work prefigured specific technical advances in audiovisual capture and reproduction – the zoom lens and surround sound in particular – and whose work as an artist and as a technician are inseparable – his artistic work functioning as a material exploration of his medium, driven by his technical insights, and his inventive work in turn responding, from necessity, to the limitations of the medium as a vehicle for his singular artistic vision.

This prompted a sort of methodological inspiration – how could we approach our own media in a way which was informed by Val del Omar’s approach? we came to see this as a form of practical media archaeology – tracing the origins and material history of the technologies we were working with back to the stereoscope and zoopraxiscope and using our work to speculate about other trajectories of technological development which would aesthetic and sensorial experiences over representation and call into question the claim that virtual, augmented and extended ‘reality’ technologies make to be representational.