For Thompson, the vampirization of our etheric juices reaches its apogee with the gloves, body suits, and head-mounted displays of virtual reality technologies—gear that allows for the total electromagnetic colonization of the energy body and the astral body alike. But while some see the inbreeding of virtual and energetic bodies as perverse, even demonic, others find it can be almost angelic.  One of the most riveting and visceral virtual reality technologies to date is Osmose, a high-end electronic art installation created by the Canadian Char Davies in the mid-1990s.  Exploiting the same graphics programs that conjured Jurassic Park's dinosaurs to life, and running on SGI hardware normally reserved for big-budget science and military simulations, Osmose swallows the participant—suitably swathed in electronic gear—into a sensuous, luminous, and deeply enveloping dreamworld of cloud forests, dark pools, and verdant canopies. Using spatial ambiguity and tricks of light Osmose conjures up the perceptual high of a walk in the woods; many "immersants" feel at once immaterial and embodied, like angels moving with animal grace. Some immersants emerge from Davies' dappled and vibrating pixelscape weeping or lingering in trance; others have compared their trips to lucid dreams or out-of-body experiences.

With its simultaneously intuitive and sophisticated virtual aesthetic Osmose is a powerful example of how technological environments can simulate something like the old animist immersion in the World Soul, organic dreamings that depend, in power and effect, upon the ethereal fire. Besides pointing to a healing use of virtual technologies, Osmose also reminds us how intimate we are with electronics, in sight and sound, in body and psyche. Our language drips with electromagnetic metaphors, of magnetic personalities and live wires, of bad vibes and tuning out, of getting grounded and recharging batteries. Whether or not the body radiates a polarized energy soul, the self is now swaddled in electromagnetic skin.

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Last verified: August 1st 2013.