Over the last decades, the terms ‘virtual’ and ‘virtual space’ have come to take an increasingly central part in our culture. Yet, they seem to acquire very different meanings in the various contexts in which they are used — ranging from ‘imaginary’ or ‘metaphysical’ to ‘computerized’ or ‘hi-tech’. In this articel I will propose a consistent view of what ‘virtual’ and ‘virtual space’ are by drawing an arbitrary line in the current fog of their multiple meanings. At its heart lies the interpretation of virtual space as the overall space which we see through pictorial images — e.g., paintings, photographs, films, video games, TV — and of ‘virtual’ as describing any visible object which is located inside of that space.

This articel is an introduction to The Virtual Space Theory. The articel will start with a discussion of a significant case history and the theoretical sources which sustain my approach. The main body of the discussion then presents some of the theory’s underlying principles: the connection between virtual space and the phenomenon of illusion; the relationship between virtual space and physical space; the relationship between virtual places inside of virtual space; the difference between this theory and others that might be confused with it; and the terminology with which it approaches its discussion of virtual space. My question is: What is virtual space?