Char Davies - Artist Biography

Canadian artist Char Davies (b. 1954) is internationally recognized for her pioneering immersive virtual artworks Osmose (1994-1995) and Ephémère (1998). These works use early stereoscopic head-mounted display technology and motion-tracking breath and balance sensors to envelop the “immersant” in luminous forest landscapes. Exhibited as installations combining solitary immersion and interaction with 3D visuals and spatialized sound, along with real-time video/audio projection for an audience, these works have been shown around the world, including at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art; Barbican Art Centre, London; Australian Center for the Moving Image, Melbourne; Museum of Monterrey, Mexico; Montreal Musée d'Art Contemporain; the National Gallery of Canada; and Laboral, Spain.

Davies started out as a painter in the forests of British Columbia, Canada. Seeking a way to access 3D virtual space, in the mid 1980’s she became a founding director of a world-leading 3D software company, Softimage. Her earliest digital works were exhibited in the US, Europe, Australia, and Canada. She first wrote about virtual reality in 1991, and in 2005, completed a doctorate on immersive virtual space (CAiiA, Centre for Advanced Inquiry in Interactive Arts, University of Plymouth, UK). She has received numerous awards, including an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, Canada, in 2002.

In 1994, Davies acquired land on a small mountain in southern Quebec, whose forests inspired Osmose and Ephémère. When early VR technology disappeared two decades ago, Davies continued creating immersive environments on the land, with stone, earth, water, and trees. These large-scale works, set in actual space rather than virtual, offer opportunities for astonishment, much like Osmose and Ephémère. In parallel, Davies has been working on a decade-long research project, taking digital technology into the forest and developing software for portraying it as a realm of subtle energies. A committed conservationist, she has acquired almost 1500 acres on the mountain, protecting it as a nature reserve for perpetuity.

Davies lives in her forest in southern Quebec, and in San Francisco.

Updated July 19th, 2022
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