Life Without Matter, 2018

VR experience for HTC Vive

Life Without Matter considers a future life in virtual reality where material things - physical matter - have mostly disappeared and our identity must be redefined. The title refers to the multiple definitions of ‘matter’; as a physical substance; a subject under consideration; something of significance. Within the virtual world we find ourselves in a mythic place that is at once ancient and futuristic. A mirror appears and the viewer confronts their digital reflection. And since a virtual world is immaterial, a virtual mirror need not reflect one’s physical appearance, but rather the female, male and animal in all of us. While the viewer interacts with their virtual reflection, their shadow is projected on a special screen in the exhibition space, revealing their actions to the audience. This presents two components to the art experience; the intimate, self-reflective experience in the virtual world and the projected, public experience via the shadow screen. This artwork goes beyond the solely visual aspect of perception to engage the viewer in a multi-sensory experience that affects the whole body, evoking core questions about identity. Meanwhile, the audience, like the prisoners in Plato’s Cave, can only see this world as shadows as they eagerly await entry into a world without matter.


Commissioned by QUAD Gallery, Arts Council England and Derby City Council

Duration: 5:30 min.

Image Credits: © Rebecca Allen, © Charlotte Jopling

(Image #6 from documentation from the QUAD exhibit)




Rebecca Allen is an internationally recognized artist inspired by the aesthetics of motion, the study of perception and behavior and the potential of advanced technology. Her artwork, which spans four decades and takes the form of experimental video, large-scale performances, live simulations and virtual and augmented reality art installations, explores issues of gender, identity and what it means to be human as technology redefines our sense of reality. With degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rebecca moves fluidly between artist studio and research lab, using her research to inform her art. Her work has been shown globally in over 250 exhibitions and is part of the permanent collection of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Recent exhibitions include: You Feel Me_, FACT Gallery, Liverpool, UK. 2019-2020; 360: Rebecca Allen, Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2019; Sync(Emerge(Consciousness)), QUAD Gallery, Derby, UK, 2018-19; Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018 (Fin de Siècle II collaboration with Nam June Paik), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2018-19; and Kraftwerk - 3D (includes video projections of Allen’s work from 1986), performed throughout the world, 2011-ongoing.

If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.