SPECULATIVE CULTURES. A Virtual Reality Art Exhibition
Artists: Morehshin Allahyari (IRN/US), Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA), Matias Brunacci (ARG/DE), Yu Hong (CHN), Francois Knoetze (ZA), Erin Ko (US) and Jamie Martinez (COL/US)
Curators: Tina Sauerlaender (DE), Peggy Schoenegge (DE), and Erandy Vergara (MX/CA)
At: Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School, New York
Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 6-8 pm (Video)
Artist Talk: Friday, February 8, 6:30 - 7:30 pm, with Morehshin Allahyari, Erin Ko & Jamie Martinez, Francois Knoetze, moderated by Tina Sauerlaender
Duration: February 7, 2019 until April 14, 2019
Opening hours: Daily 12 noon -6 pm, Thursdays late until 8 pm Closed all major holidays.
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.
The artists in this exhibition engage with their personal experiences, memories, and cultural heritage in order to reflect on today’s social coexistence. Morehshin Allahyari reflects on post-colonialism by exploring meanings of myths of Middle-Eastern origin. Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA) creates a futuristic setting based on a story of the indigenous Anishinabe peoples. Matias Brunacci develops an interactive, technology-based shamanistic journey. Yu Hong refers back to Chinese history and her families’ life stories. Francois Knoetze combines present and future, as well as representations and fictional visions of South Africa. Erin Ko and Jamie Martinez create a journey to the afterlife inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
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.
Technical expertise and support kindly provided by the XReality Center at The New School.
Installation shots, Speculative Cultures. A Virtual Reality Exhibition (2019), curated by Tina Sauerlaender, Peggy Schoenegge, and Erandy Vergara. Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons/The New School. Photos: Marc Tatti
Further CRITICAL APPROACHES IN VR ART Exhibitions
Curated by Tina Sauerlaender & Erandy Vergara
About: The exhibition series Critical Approaches in Virtual Reality Art was developed by the curators Erandy Vergara (Montréal) and Tina Sauerlaender (Berlin) 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. The two curators conceived the umbrella concept Critical Approaches in VR Art to create international Virtual Reality group exhibitions that adapt to the cultural, spatial and economical conditions of the venue and its surroundings. The exhibited VR works by visual artists from different backgrounds engage critically in current political or cultural issues.
ENVISIONING THE FUTURE. Other World Perspectives in Virtual Reality Art
Artists: A / A (DE), Banz & Bowinkel (DE), Scott Benesiinaabandan (CA), Julian Bonequi (MX), Paloma Dawkins (CA), Claudia Hart (US), Jakob Kudsk Steensen (DK/US)
Curators: Erandy Vergara (MX/CA) and Tina Sauerlaender (DE)
Duration: October 23 to 28, 2018
At: Halcyon Arts Lab, 1801 35th Street NW, Washington, DC
The future no longer exists solely within the bounds of the “real” world. In a time of political tension between communities, countries, and cultures, we are now redefining and reexamining our future in both real and virtual spaces. You are invited to experience the future as it is imagined by seven artists who have rendered their unique visions of tomorrow using the medium of Virtual Reality, thus forging deeper connections between technology and art. In Envisioning the Future – Other World Perspectives in Virtual Reality Art, these seven artists use Virtual Reality to transport us to vastly different parallel futuristic worlds: from utopian to apocalyptic, from primeval to high-tech, from Earth to Mars. Simultaneously fascinated by and fearful of the future, our curiosity and the spirit of discovery drive our visions of a future that we are all actively part of. Placing the viewer in an active role that allows them to help shape the space they occupy, Virtual Reality makes the individual the center of an artistic piece, an active “user” who decides where to look and where to go.
Li Alin, Erin Gee & Alex Lee
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: Digifest Toronto, CORUS QUAY, 25 Dockside Dr, ON M5A 1B6 Toronto
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. The audience itself explores Gee's H.E.A.R.T., a virtual work where you have to control your emotions to control the leading character in a war-related VR game, as well as Alin's Enter Me Tonight, a VR environment engaged with issues on human reproduction, economy, biology, pornography and technology. In a contextualizing event on April 26, 3 pm, the curators will speak about the history of VR and current trends and critical perspectives on this technology.
With Enter Me Tonight (EMT), Li Alin recreates a world where women reflect and take action to upgrade the reproductive system that seems to become more and more artificial and inhuman. Entwined around a main character, DeNA, it talks about reproduction methods, improving dysfunctional reproductive systems and new evolutionary strategies that emphasize the role of women and female orgasm.
Erin Gee & Alex M. Lee: H.E.A.R.T. is a code name for the Holographic Empathy Attack Robotics Team, a biosensor-driven virtual reality artwork Gee developed in collaboration with 3D-artist Alex M. Lee. H.E.A.R.T. invites the viewer to place their fingers on a biodata gathering device and then summon their enthusiasm in order to direct their avatar in “combat therapy.”