Today, hybrid forms of reality determine our daily life. Reality is no longer confined to the paradigm of truth, of ‘being‘ versus ‘seeming’, but it can also be related to our own physical space, natural or urban surroundings, to virtual worlds of our digital society. They co-exist and overlap in techniques like augmented or mixed reality and therefore open expanded ways of perception. The gaze of the viewer/user is absorbed, sometimes the whole body is involved in a corporeal experience. Unlike a classical sculpture, virtual objects are characterized exclusively by a visual presence – marks on the surface of a screen based on an algorithm, without sharing the same spatial conditions as its counterpart.
‘Sculpting (virtual) Realities’ is a series of several one-piece presentations at TRAFO that brings together emerging and established artists working in the above mentioned field. The contradiction between a visible absence and presence of virtual, digitalized objects is sometimes transferred back to a haptic, physical object created by the automatic process of a high-tech 3D printer out of digital data. Nevertheless, sculptural criteria such as plasticity and multi-perspectivity play a significant role for both parts. The exhibition questions how we adapt our modes of seeing in regard to this new development of image formation.
‘If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.’ (Matrix)
The series of exhibition starts with Jeremy Couillard‘s ‘The Out of Body experience’ (2015). By appointment at the entrance of TRAFO, the viewer is invited for an immersive journey through a surrealistic, psychedelic landscape populated with alien figures and fabulous sculptural objects. At the waiting zone in the basement-level, he can enjoy a glass of water and watch the film ‘The Bob Monroe 24/7 Out of Body Experience News Network’ until called by a docent. ‘The Out of Body Experience’ begins in a white room, where the viewer is given a VR googles, which shows a simulation of the space itself, until suddenly taken on the trip. Contrary to most VR pieces, here, the viewer is not able to explore the landscape by himself, neither to control the (virtual) movement.
But looking through the gear down on one´s own body, one seems to escape all corporal restrictions. One feels weightless, at the same time responding physically to this absorbing simulation while floating within a new, virtual reality, not being bound to gravitation anymore, melting with any spatial objects. Might life be just a simulation, the Brooklyn-based programmer and artist asks himself. Interested in perceptual perspective approaches Couillard is influenced by the teachings of Bob Monroe (1915-1995). The radio-broadcasting executive became known for his research about expanded states of consciousness. He studied the significance of specific sound frequencies for human capabilities, e.g. affecting sleep, euphoria or enhanced alertness. In 1971, Monroe published the book ‘Journey out of the body’ which functions as reference for the artist’s work.
The experience at TRAFO creates new surroundings and extends the limitation of physicality, sometimes accompanied by a loss of time and disorientation.
Jeremy Couillard (b. 1980, Livonia, Michigan) is an artist based in New York. Couillard explores digital spaces in and outside computers through videos and installations using 3D modelling software, realtime engines, paint, Plexiglass, etc. He has an MFA from Columbia University (2012) and shows with Louis B James gallery in New York. He is also a New Media professor in Queens, NY.
The exhibition was realized thanks to equipment provided by Pixellegend Szczecin.
VIRTUAL REALITY AS A FUTURE ART FORM
Sunday, July 17th @ 12pm
Lecture by Philip Hausmeier accompanying the exhibition.
Today’s consumer Virtual Reality systems give artists for the first time affordable access to create artworks and spaces beyond the limits of physical reality. Philip Hausmeier, founder of the VR platform Metaphysics as well as organizer of the VR Berlin Meetup will discuss possibilities of what art can be in the future as VR technologies accelerate at a fast pace.
Image: Out of Body Experience, 2015, film still, eight-minute virtual reality simulation