Thinking about Exhibitions in Novel Ways: Digital Art and New Forms of Experiencing Art

Author: Nina Steimel

BEYOND MATTER — Thinking about Exhibitions in novel ways: Digital Art and New Forms of Experiencing Art is an international, collaborative, and practice-based research project, which takes cultural heritage and culture to the boundaries of virtual reality. Within a multitude of activities and formats it reflects in particular on the virtual condition of spatial aspects of art production, of curating, and in art presentation, and education. The priority areas of the project’s research and practice are the digital revival of selected, groundbreaking past exhibitions, art and archive exhibitions, conferences, artist-in-residence programs, the online platform, and publications. The project was initiated by the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, in collaboration with the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, the Ludwig Museum – Museum for Contemporary Art, the Tallinn Art Hall, the Aalto University, and the Tirana Art Lab. It is co-financed by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

In the projects BEYOND MATTER and Hybrid Museum Experience (HyMEx Symposium), funded by the EU and the Federal Government of Germany, the ZKM | Hertz-Lab is intensely involved with producing digital art, but above all with the available options for its presentation and dissemination in the digital environment. The results of this museological and artistic pioneering work are now on show in three new exhibitions, an online platform with an innovative program, a symposium, digital models, and a new series of talks. The funding of Hybrid Museum Experience has enabled long-lasting improvements to be made to the dissemination of culture and the use of digital technology in museums.

The Hybrid Museum Experience “will show in exemplary fashion how the digital transformation in culture and media achieves a successful outcome”—Prof. Monika Grütters MdB.

The implementation of new museum technologies like, for example, the Immaterial Display, a mobile hardware installation for an immersive visit to virtual models of an exhibition, inevitably raises the question of their usefulness for the production of knowledge and disseminating it. This is addressed with the help of an accompanying study: as an expansion of BEYOND MATTER, Hybrid Museum Experience will develop a self-service evaluation automaton, and from its data sets it will be possible to read off durable markers for the museum of the future.

From April 29th, 2021, not one but two groundbreaking exhibitions will be on show: the physical exhibition Spatial Affairs at the Ludwig Museum – Museum for Contemporary Art and also its digital counterpart, the online exhibition Spatial Affairs. Worlding—A tér világlása at Spatial Affairs, curated by Giulia Bini and Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás, explores the reactions in art to new perceptions of space and how they intertwine with reality, with a special emphasis on these times of computergenerated virtual and immersively experienced reality.

Spatial Affairs. Worlding—A tér világlása is an online environment designed and programmed by The Rodina, Amsterdam, and coproduced by ZKM and EPFL Pavilions, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, which is waiting to be discovered. In the multi-user exhibition the avatars of the visitors mingle with the moving bodies of the net art and browser-based projects on display. The soundscape of the virtual environment was created by Enrico Boccioletti.

With the launch of the digital exhibition platform VIEW, realized by the Estonian design collective AKU, on April 8th, 2021 the online version of the installation Drifting, Browsing, Cruising, which had been scheduled for this summer at the ZKM, was opened in the virtual exhibition space Fantastic Confabulations. Like a laboratory, Fantastic Confabulations wants to enable new, that is, heterogeneous, queer formats of scenography, and curating. Both the installation and the exhibition space originate from the computer-generated pens of Eleni Diana Elia and Theodoulos Polyviou, currently guest artists at the ZKM. The digital platform and the exhibition space will also host the installations by the subsequent BEYOND MATTER guest artists.

ZKM visitors will be able to see the VR space-related installation Drifting, Browsing, Cruising which challenges visitors wearing a VR headset to negotiate the constraints of the often ritualized, ideologically influenced exhibition space in a new way. The simultaneous use of headphones enables users to meet each other. This is done by calibrating the physical limits of the space in such a way that they come up against virtual limits which are seen by the VR headsets and thus make the experience of the installation immersive and tangible.

In the context of the project BEYOND MATTER: Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality in addition to the ZKM | Karlsruhe, the Centre Pompidou has also undertaken to explore the possibilities of reviving past exhibitions by using experimental methods of digital spatial design. Over the course of this year, digital models of the groundbreaking exhibitions Les Immatériaux (Centre Pompidou, 1985) and Iconoclash (ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2002) will be made and presented on The models are being developed in collaboration with Aalto University, Finland. Part of the work process was a series of talks with the experts who worked on the original exhibitions. These took place in 2020/21 for the ZKM’s Iconoclash and included Dario Gamboni, Boris Groys, Sabine Himmelsbach, Bruno Latour, and Peter Weibel. The talks can be accessed on the project’s website In May the Centre Pompidou will begin its talks with experts involved in Les Immatériaux, which will be posted monthly on monthly on the project’s website. The first experts will be Philippe Bettinelli, Andreas Broeckmann, and Francesca Gallo.

BEYOND MATTER — Thinking about Exhibitions in novel ways: Digital Art and New Forms of Experiencing Art

Spatial Affairs Artists: Morehshin Allahyari, Andreas Angelidakis, Carola Bonfili, Adam Broomberg & Guy De Lancey & Brian O’Doherty, Petra Cortright, Agnes Denes, Aleksandra Domanović, Louise Drulhe, Wojciech Fangor, Stanislav Filko, Lucio Fontana, Dora García, Sam Ghantous, János Gulyás, Hans Hollein, Lauren Huret, Jodi, Hiroshi Kawano, Katarzyna Kobro, Alicja Kwade, Oliver Laric, Sam Lavigne & Tega Brain, Jan Robert Leegte, Lou Cantor, Stano Masár, Cildo Meireles, Rosa Menkman, Metahaven, Imre Nagy, Georg Nees, Robert Olawuyi, Gyula Pauer, Goran Petercol, Sascha Pohflepp & Alessia Nigretti & Matthew Lutz, Àngels Ribé, The Rodina, Rafaël Rozendaal, Jeffrey Shaw, Andrej Škufca, Károly Tamkó Sirató, Viktor Timofeev, Unrated/Besorolás Alatt, Gyula Várnai.
Curators: Giulia Bini and Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás
Curatorial assistants: Jan Elantkowski and Fruzsina Feigl

Drifting, Browsing, Cruising
Online Thu., April 4th–Sat., July 31st, 2021
Museum Balcony: from Summer 2021

Spatial Affairs. Worlding—A tér világlása
Thu., April 29th–Wed., August 8th, 2023

Spatial Affairs
Thu., April 29th–Sun., June 27th, 2021
Ludwig Museum Budapest
Komor Marcell utca 1.
H-1095 Budapest, Hungary

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
Lorenzstraße 19
76135 Karlsruhe, Germany

Visit the website and find information about grants for guest artists here


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