Traversing Virtual Domestic Space through Painting

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  • Title: Traversing Virtual Domestic Space through Painting
  • Author(s): Fiona Harman
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts
  • Keywords: Perception, Self Inquiry, Creative Arts, Suburban Landscapes, Painting, Virtual Realities, Architectural Spaces
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2326-9987 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-1787 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Harman, Fiona. 2017. "Traversing Virtual Domestic Space through Painting." The International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts 12 (3): 27-35. doi:10.18848/2326-9987/CGP/v12i03/27-35.
  • Extent: 9 pages


This article examines how painting can respond to the virtual space of online real estate tours through real and imagined representations of the “show home.” Virtual tours are used to document show homes, which are houses constructed to motivate buyers in new housing developments. Show homes are perfectly manicured and furnished, yet completely uninhabited. Focusing on two paintings, “Plunge Pool” and “Deep End,” created for a solo exhibition titled “Paradise Point” (2015). This research explores how techniques of figuration and abstraction in painting can disrupt the idyllic virtual show home into an imagined depiction of domestic space. This transformation alludes to the ironies and impossibilities of the unlived show home. The paintings are informed by theoretical understandings of utopian ideals and ideology, Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico’s Metaphysical landscapes (1909–1919), Australian artist Callum Morton’s “Valhalla” (2007), and Austrian artist Robert F. Hammerstiel’s use of “Second Life” in “Waste Land” (2011). A duality of promise and illusion is developed in the work through the manipulation of architectural space taken from virtual tours, with a specific focus on the swimming pool. This duality is used to scrutinise the extent to which we are willing to project our desires, aspirations, and longings onto an imagined and impossible domestic space.