Immaterial Girl Living in an Immaterial World

Katie Hadgis

United States
Student Award

IGLIW is a generative, virtual world rendered in real-time through Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ​game engine. It shares traits with surrealist art, conceptual art, machinima film, and the real-fake. In this Immaterial World, the Immaterial Girl is tossed erratically around the scene. It is jarring to look at - we associate ourselves and our own bodies with the Immaterial Girl. A physical person would certainly not survive these injuries, but the Immaterial Girl is forced to endure the trauma in perpetuity, as these are the laws of this digital space. While game engines are a traditionally interactive medium, IGLIW is not outwardly interactive. Rather, it is a study of this traditionally interactive medium, where the user’s input is deliberately removed. Similarly, while IGLIW is generated in a game engine, no one, not the user, not the computer, is playing any game. In fact, the Immaterial World itself should neither be labelled as a game nor as a level in a game. It is a singular digital space with its own manufactured laws.

The laws of this custom digital space are further outlined in the illuminated prints, Immaterial Girl and Immaterial World. A human observer sees the mountains, trees, and the virtual resident, but these objects have little to do with the real-time dynamics of the world. Rectangular prisms and lines of code etched in clear plexiglas show the hidden objects, these forces of nature, that turn the Immaterial World and Immaterial Girl from static images to living, breathing, changing entities. Not only is the code itself is presented as an object that occupies both physical and virtual space, both the code and these rectangles are autonomous mechanisms. It is the code that exerts its will upon the Immaterial World, ruling over it from out of sight of the Immaterial Girl. Only physical, human observers outside of the Immaterial World may look upon these governing entities through ethereal, intangible light.

Immaterial Girl Living in an Immaterial World
Immaterial Girl
Immaterial World
Detail of Immaterial Girl and Immaterial World
Digital proofs of Immaterial Girl and Immaterial World

IGLIW is rendered in Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim game engine. The scene was built using assets (models, scripts, and other data objects) from this game engine, which I arranged to build the level. I also wrote an additional custom script that dictates the behaviors of this virtual world. IGLIW is rendered in 1080p and displayed on a 60" wall-mounted television.

For the accompanying prints, still images taken from IGLIW were edited and abstracted in Adobe Photoshop and printed through a digital inkjet printer onto matte litho paper. Vector designs were created in Adobe Illustrator and laser engraved on 1/8" transparent plexiglas. Prints are mounted on the wall, and the plexiglas coverings are mounted approximately one inch off the prints with screws. 18" fluorescent lights are mounted directly beneath the plexiglas, illuminating the engravings. Each assembled print object (Immaterial Girl and Immaterial World) measures 18.0" x 25.5".

Immaterial Girl Living in an Immaterial World