The central question of "What do you really want?", as posed by the system itself, is examined at three levels:
First, if immersion is a desirable state, is it to be achieved by overwhelming every sense? VR supposedly does so and tries to leave no room for distraction. Or should one pursue immersion through the mental capacity of entering a 'flow' state or even meditation, thus reducing external stimuli?
Second, adaptive digital environments cater our psychological structures and needs ever better. These systems have reached a point - such as a game automatically adjusting its difficulty to the player - where they represent a more wantable life than our society can offer for many.
Third, digital recommendation systems claim to 'know' what you want through technological means of data-observation. VR is inherently based on tracking. This data in combination with statistical tools is used to create a questionable 'understanding' of us.
These approaches are contrasted in the three parts of the experience. In the end the question maybe isn’t what you want, but what 'wanting' means in the age of surveillance capitalism and adaptive virtual environments.
From my opening speech (translated):
In this perfomance I put myself in the exhibition space for the opening wearing a custom-built eye tracker which showed in real-time where my gaze was directed, observable on screens attached to my augmented body.
Die Pose muß viel allgemeiner als fotografische Prägung des Körpers verstanden werden, derer sich das Subjekt nicht unbedingt bewußt ist: Sie kann das Resultat eines Bildes sein, das so oft auf den Körper projiziert worden ist, daß das Subjekt beginnt, sich sowohl psychisch wie auch körperlich mit ihm zu identifizieren. Dieses Bild ist im übrigen durchaus nicht immer schmeichelhaft oder lustvoll besetzt.«
Throughout the twentieth century there was a growing debate about the gaze and it's implication on society and individuals within it.
The technological developments of the early twenty-first century added a new immediacy and impact to this. The gaze itself of course always had been immediate, observable by the parties involved. But it was limited to its physical environment. Audience measurement was rudimentary. Not so in the present day and especially the internet: Knowing who sees what when had grown beyond mass surveillance. Every user of social media gets near to real-time feedback on their performance.
Results vary, but the influence of the public *tele*gaze has been strong enough for large shares of social media users turn to (supposedly) more oblivious and private ways of exposing themselves, such as Snapchat (and the inclusion of their features into other mainstream products). Silverman's words on unconsciously posing for the camera seem to fulfill even more today, taking into account just how often each individual is photographed (or photographing themselves). And on the other side the emergence of terms such as social cooling proves that users now feel, acknowledge and fear that even looking at something is an act with strings attached.
The performance Blickregime (sehen und gesehen werden) bridges the technological and social/physical space into a performance. This format creates an actual experience of gazing and being gazed upon, a fundamental advantage. Only in involuntarily forcing bystanders to take both sides it can be achieved to gain an understanding (and hence empathy) of the ubiquitous process, the social dynamic of the regime of the gaze. The performance initially has no claim to action: merely by existing it attempts to expose the existence of the regime.
In echo to Minujín's work the opening was chosen as the ideal moment of observation. The multiple layers of sehen und gesehen werden (see and be seen) unfold: gallery visitors see artworks, gallery visitors see gallery visitors, gallery visitors see the performance, the performer sees gallery visitors and artworks and everybody can see exactly how the performance sees all this, inviting the visitors to extrapolate this visibility to their own gaze and that of their surrounding.
A feedback system establishes itself. The gaze is felt, spatially, physically. And as a performer I am the first to notice the arising self-censorship. Moving your eyes loses it's unconscious innocence. The sensation stays, even after leaving the apparatus. You'll never look at anything the same way anymore.
Interactive installation with VR, 2017
With Virtual Reality this can be overcome, since vision is detached from the own body. Does this also detach and dissolve self-perception as known until today? Is this a first step towards trans-humanism?
It isn't. We recognize ourselves with even low-resolution, square-y, hollow representations of ourselves. But we don't associate with the body, can't move naturally, are awkwardly lost in overlapping physical and virtual spaces. The movement of the own body, the movement of others entering the light cube (a physical take on the chaperone usually used in VR to remind users of the physical limits) and the movement of the virtual camera are quite overwhelming.
Kowalski, M.; Naruniec, J.; Daniluk, M.: "LiveScan3D: A Fast and Inexpensive 3D Data Acquisition System for Multiple Kinect v2 Sensors". in 3D Vision (3DV), 2015 International Conference on, Lyon, France, 2015
One key aspect missing in this documentation — so far — is the role of the person in virtual reality as a performer.
On the other hand, the one-regarding-themself is in the attention of everybody not in VR. He is looked at without being able to look back. The light cube creates a physical sub-space in the surrounding (physical) exhibition space. This sub-space is usually accepted as a stage, the invisible boundaries aren't trespassed by viewers.
The privacy of the own body experience, of losing oneself in immersion, of moving in a virtual environment - it is involuntarily presented as a performance.
with The Wrong
IRL & online stream
group show curated by Peggy Buth, Ralf F. Hartmann, Friederike Kröbel, Jens-Ole Rey
lecture — day 4, hall Clarke, 13:30
selected festival entry for the annual theme "Futur III"
THIS IS FAKE group show
group show coordinated by Peggy Buth
lecture, self-organized session
show with Rüdiger Schöll
class show (Peggy Buth / Christin Lahr)
curated film program
group show curated by Clemens von Wedemeyer / Alba d'Urbano / Peggy Buth
group show + award exhibition, as a non-competing guest
award exhibition - won annual theme BIG DADA
group show, participating as part of THIS IS FAKE + participation in film screening
award exhibition - nominee
solo show as part of THIS IS FAKE
group show with THIS IS FAKE
group project, as part of media art class of 2016