Mit weit geschlossenen Augen.
Virtuelle Realitäten entwerfen
Exhibition Design together with Philipp Reinfeld
Location _KISD | Cologne
Abstract _On May 31 and June 1 2017, KISD – Köln International School of Design of TH Köln was hosting the interdisciplinary conference “Mit weit geschlossenen Augen. Virtuelle Realitäten entwerfen” (Eyes Wide Shut. Developing Virtual Realities). The event is a cooperation project with the Institute of Media and Design of TU Braunschweig. From different perspectives, researchers, scientist, and designers will on these two days deal with the question on how virtual reality technologies can/will change the way we perceive spatial settings and individual action patterns. The conference will also analyze the possible impacts of virtual reality on design and architecture – given that distinct boundaries between image and body increasingly start to blur. Facebook, Samsung, Google, and HTC are pushing onto the mass market by their latest virtual reality glasses pledging users a total immersion into pictorial worlds. By means and the with the help of head-mounted displays, as the advertising slogans unanimously stress, virtual reality eventually becomes authentic and real. However, which real-virtual realities are we talking about, how are they characterized, and how do they differ from original, simple pictorial spaces?
The physical image delimited to the outside by picture base and picture frame creates a distance between image and viewer. Genuinely identifying and comprehending the image helps to mark a clear distinction between visual constitution and material object. However, perceiving it via a virtual reality glass will impede a clear determination. 3D stereoscopic depth perception and instantly retracing processes by head and body movements boosts the impression of being not in front of an image, but being part/in the middle of action of a pictorial space and interacting with things and processes happening. Interactive moving images by virtual reality tools which do not condone any interference from outside call for the user’s unconditional attention – with regard to time, space, and emotion. Besides, if the action takes place in the very same room where the user is physically located and where spaces and actions are virtually perceived as immersive visualizations, then virtual reality glasses appear to be transparent and clear. Any moves made in the real world are then also moves made in the virtual world. Thus, how does the way we perceive, recognize, and understand actions of ourselves and our environments change if digital real time images reproduce and determine our surroundings by depriving us of a comprehensive view/experience of the real tactical sense of space? Which classifications are being developed if the depicted space complies with the physically real spatial dimensions of it, but differs in its qualities? These entanglements between the »existence of the tactical sense of space« and the »the effect of facial structures« (August Schmarsow, 1896) not only transform the object itself, but also the developing process of design and architecture in general. It is thus increasingly the design of specific action spaces – created by the interplay of bodies, technical objects, and physical surroundings – which becomes more and more prevalent in design and architectural developing processes. Developing in general, by applying these techniques and action patterns provided by virtual reality surroundings, then turns into a process in which sensual information on the body and on the tools of perception and developing can be willingly scheduled, altered, or modified.
However, are we striving for these changes? Will this immersion into other worlds with a permanent presence in them find resolutions for our current society and environments? What (media) strategies do exist or can be found with regard to using, analyzing, assessing, or directing and controlling virtual reality? These are the issues that the conference „Mit weit geschlossenen Augen. Virtuelle Realitäten entwerfen“ will deal with – with guest speakers and participants from the realms of design, the arts, architecture, computer science, philosophy, art history, media and cultural science, theater arts, film and television studies.