Ars Electronica Garden and Exhibition 2021 in Berlin

by Julian Bachmann // Sept. 6, 2021

From September 8th to 12th, the Ars Electronica Garden Berlin will present outstanding student works from the HTW Berlin’s Communication Design program, exhibited as part of the Ars Electronica Festival 2021 in the Reinbeckhallen in cooperation with the Reinbeckhallen Foundation.

In the wake of social distancing, the temporary shuttering of cultural spaces and educational institutions, the need for virtual spaces and meeting places continues to grow. What do these worlds look like? Which rules should apply to them? Who is allowed to participate in them? The exhibition ‘ARTIFICIAL REALITY – VIRTUAL INTELLIGENCE’—curated by Andreas Ingerl and Moritz Schell—showcases student projects that deal with these questions: By means of a Brain Computer Interface, the emotional state of the participant influences the perception of the virtual world.

Elena Kunau & Mariya Yordanova: ‘Lucid Dream,’ 2020

The exhibition shows objects and installations by Maria Bürger, Elena Kunau & Mariya Yordanova, Felix Sewing, Hoang Quynh Nguyen, and others, which deal with the question of how virtual reality and artificial intelligence will influence our individually experienced environment and our social coexistence in the future. The exhibition focuses on the following four works that illuminate these topics in different ways:

‘paradigm shift’: visitors dive into a virtual reality world and encounter an omnipresent voice assistant. At first, the artificial intelligence seems to fulfill all the users’ wishes. But little by little it develops a will of its own and begins to manipulate the visitors. In her work, Maria Bürger develops a speculative scenario in which the balance of power between man and machine shifts. Man loses control and in the end is confronted with an all-powerful machine.

‘Lucid Dream’: visitors can interact in a virtual dream sequence by means of an EEG (Brain Computer Interface). Instead of using haptic input devices and controllers, the interaction here works through the power of thought. Elena Kunau and Mariya Yordanova have created a virtual world that invites visitors to fly to the moon. However, caution is advised here. As soon as the emotional state of the users changes, the flight can end abruptly.

‘VR Experience’: A simple parkour made of walk-through cubes invites visitors on a journey to the limits of their perception. Equipped with a virtual reality headset, users enter the parkour. At first, the virtual environment and the real environment are congruent. But gradually, minimal divergences emerge between the projected and the physical world. In the installation, Felix Sewing plays with the perceptual modalities of the visitors, who at the end of the installation will ask themselves which sensory impressions they should ultimately trust, the virtual or the real?

Felix Sewing: ‘VR Experience’ // © Andreas Ingerl

‘Lakune’: The short film by Hoang Quynh Nguyen portrays two young women, an affectionate team that complements each other like two pieces of a puzzle. A snapshot of their present and at the same time speculation of a future, because what could happen if suddenly a puzzle piece is removed and replaced by a virtual and artificial existence?

In addition to the installations mentioned above, the section ‘Future Technologies Lab’ will feature further works that deal with future technologies and new media. The projects range from robots that respond emotionally to human input to installations that use machine learning and computer vision algorithms to confront visitors with possible scenarios of future human-machine interaction.

Jessica Dierich & Daniela Vogel: ‘Lost in Truncation,’ 2021

Part of the exhibition will be various hybrid offerings or access points available through the exhibition’s website (online from August onwards). These will be live previews and online simulations of installations, or access to robots that “visit” the exhibition and share their camera images live. There will also be opportunities to explore the exhibition via a telepresence robot and speak with students and curators.

In addition to the exhibition, two special events are planned: The premiere of previously unreleased ‘CINEMIRACLE’ films. The short films show, simultaneously as split screens on three projections, episodic contributions to the themes of the future and society. On the evening of Friday, September 10th, the Ars Electronica Garden Berlin invites you to Berlin’s first virtual 3D club. All international guests will meet virtually in Berlin to celebrate art, technology, society and electronic music. The music will be streamed live into the exhibition hall and, through projections on the walls, the visitors will be a live part of the virtual club.

Exhibition Info

Ars Electronica Garden Berlin

Group Show: ‘Artificial Reality – Virtual Intelligence’
Opening Reception: Wednesday, Sept. 8; 6–10pm
Exhibition: Sept. 8–12, 2021
exhibitions.htw-berlin.de/arselectronica2021
Reinbeckhallen, Reinbeckstraße 17, 12459 Berlin, click here for map

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