SPECULATIVE CULTURES - A Virtual Reality Exhibition

Matias Brunacci, Virtualshamanism, VR experience, 2018

Matias Brunacci, Virtualshamanism, VR experience, 2018

Artists:  Morehshin Allahyari (IRN/US), Scott Benesiinaabandan (CAN), Matias Brunacci (ARG/DE), Yu Hong (CHN), Francois Knoetze (ZAF), Erin Ko (US) & Jamie Martinez (COL/US)
Curators: Tina Sauerlaender & Peggy Schoenegge (DE), and Erandy Vergara (MX/CA)
At: Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons School of Design at The New School , 2 West 13th St, Ground Floor, New York, USA
Opening: February 7, 2019, 6- 8 pm
Artists' Tour: February 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Duration: February 7, 2019 - April 14, 2019.

Cultures have never existed in a set state. They are all in constant flux brought about by social, economic, and technological developments. The global flow of people forges change, adaptation of norms and the creation of new forms for human societies, religions, rituals, or spoken languages. These processes of change lead to the adoption of new tools or practices and therefore can be considered as engine for progress, growth, and innovation. The new tools of the digital age offer new possibilities for cultures to exist, evolve, and consolidate. Virtual Reality allows artists to speculate about new manifestations of cultural expressions within the conditions of the digital realm. Independent of physical surroundings, new spaces spring into existence. Through their works, the artists shape their hopes and desires into virtual environments representing imagined cultures. Their speculative virtual worlds create different perspectives on established narratives and traditions, as well as images and symbols. The artists’ projects thereby open possibilities for leaving accustomed views and familiar structures behind and exploring different notions of one’s own personal surroundings and conditions of human existence.

This show is part of the exhibition series Critical Approaches in Virtual Reality Art, which was developed by Erandy Vergara and Tina Sauerlaender at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut and Studio XX in Montréal. This series brings together Erandy Vergara's engagement with postcolonial and feminist perspectives on media art and theory and Tina Sauerlaender's curatorial engagement with digital technologies and Virtual Reality.  

Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

peer to space at DIGIFEST in Toronto

Install view: Li Alin, Enter Me Tonight, House of Electronic Arts Basel, 2017 / Photo by Franz Wamhof

Install view: Li Alin, Enter Me Tonight, House of Electronic Arts Basel, 2017 / Photo by Franz Wamhof

VR projects at Digifest:

H.E.A.R.T. by Erin Gee and Alex M. Lee
Enter Me Tonight by Li Alin

Presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto
Curated by Tina Sauerländer (Berlin) and Erandy Vergara (Montreal)

At the invitation of the Goethe-Institut curators Tina Sauerländer and Erandy Vergara have selected VR works for this year’s Toronto Digifest, including two recent pieces by Berlin-based Canadian artist Li Alin and Montreal-based artist Erin Gee in collaboration with South Korean-born, US-based artist Alex M. Lee. The artists use humor and irony to engage in controversial topics: emotions in first-person shooter video games and war in the case of Gee, and a futuristic exploration on human reproduction in technology-oriented times in the case of Alin.

Further information here / Tina Sauerlaender on the Goethe Blog.

Critical Conversation on Virtual Reality in Canada

Critical Approaches to Virtual Reality: A Conversation about the Present, Past and Future of VR

Presenters: Tina Sauerländer, Erandy Vergara, Paloma Dawkins, Tali Goldstein and Ruben Farrus (Casa Rara)

May 24th, 5pm to 7pm

Milieux Institute at Concordia University

Recent art projects and discussions about VR seem mostly awestruck by the possibilities of the technologies themselves. However, there are critical and historical perspectives that we must address in order to investigate issues of aesthetics, politics, and the conceptual aspects of VR artworks and games. This conversation will include questions such as: How can artists and collectives working with Virtual Reality today challenge mainstream uses of this technology? What can we learn from the pioneers of VR and the criticism that media theorists asked regarding early celebratory discourses? Where are we in regards to issues of embodiment/disembodiment? What about feminist and postcolonial critiques of VR?

Studio XX sincerely thanks the Goethe-Institut and the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University for their support as partners of this event.

Image: Exhibition view THE UNFRAMED WORLD at HeK Basel, artwork: Banz & Bowinkel, Mercury, 2016 (Installation view, VR experience) / Photo by Franz Wamhof