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VR experience at DOK- Interaction with the device towards control mechanisms

projects by Syntia

THX 4 Nothing

The ordinary absence of control isn’t loss but simultaneously intangible and too vast unless the infrastructure on which both device and service depends on remains persistent on both sides of the screen. 

The conventions of interaction with the device are obscure or even inexplicable to many. When we do fail in our attempts to master device, we are more likely to blame ourselves rather than than the parties who are actually responsible.

Control Negative by Monika Masłoń, Extended Reality at DOK Leipzig, Museum of fine arts (Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig)

THX 4 NOTHING – DOK Neuland 2022

The VR experience at DOK Control Negative by Monika Masłoń, Extended Reality at DOK Leipzig, subjects to a psychological experiment that provokes desire for absolute control that is coming from western self-enhancement culture. By playing with the dysfunctional and unpredictable settings it confronts us with expressions such as frustration, helplessness, feeling anger or sadness while keeping in mind that control is an illusion led from physical activation to contemplative perception.

The ethical bind is, when a device becomes a de facto necessity, it is a the same time impossible to use the device as intended without, in return surrounding data to it and the network beyond. The same network routing that establishes connectivity surfaces for generating maps, refining real time traffic reports and tailoring advertising, is leveraged for early warning and monitor systems and outsource operations that are controlled by vendors and government.

Kunstkraftwerk 360° Bright Connect Leipzig

Kunstkraftwerk 360° immersive environment with an overwhelming experience surrounded by digital art and lighting where some of the projections in this year were designed based on acknowledgement of the natural disasters and disaster recovery.

Monument to the Battle of the Nations, Leipzig. Projection mapping with large multidimensional scaling plot of the morse code data.

At the end of the cultural summer 2022 Leipzig artists illuminate the Monument to the Battle of the Nations with light installations with the parole „Denk. Mal. Frieden.“ translating “Think. Times. Peace.” It represents a variety of signs of peace and hope from different countries and solidarity with the people who were attacked in Ukraine as the symbol of global and cultural resistance. The artists want to call for active participation and peaceful coexistence in a free and democratic future. In October 2021, the “Light Art Experience” took place at the monument for the first time.

In fact a single point of data can be mobilized by the device in multiple ways. For instance, the map is not the only way of representing user’s location. The suite of sensors required to produce the map-the GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer- can also pass data to other physical mediums or mobile device via structured conduit called an application programming interface (API).

The price of this coupled carrier is vulnerability. Every single device that is connected to the network unprotected ultimately exposes its own controls that can be point of access to the entire local network and every device connected to it. That is an attack vector.

Internet of things isn’t a single technology but an unruly assemblage of protocols, web standards, hardware and capabilities that is all swept under a single rubric for the sake of disciplinary convenience. As is our ambition to raise awareness to the ordinary circumstances of traffic analysis and response. 

In practice of the measures from daily life, mulling everything from devices for qualifying REM sleep to the legalities involved in sharing the data, one forum thread goes a little further with title “Can You Quantify Inner Peace?” gathering metrics to measure progress toward self-control mechanisms. 

Wearable biometric sensors are hinges between the body and network, elaborating heart beat, breathing, skin temperature and even perspiration, and the ways of raising the body’s own processes directly to the network where it can be stored and mined like every other data set. 

Health insurance companies including Aetna in the United States and Vitality in the United Kingdom has extended their discounts on Apple Watch and offers reduced premiums for those whose Watches continue reporting high and regular levels of activity. 

The appeal of rise of wearable biometric monitoring devices can be only understood as a disciplinary power. The act of quantification intended imposes them suitable for fungible units with greater performance valued only in terms of what they offer economically.

In times of global challenges such as the consequences of the war, climate crisis, the disregard for human rights, corrupt systems, persecution and displacement- access to knowledge and opportunities for exchange are higher than ever. Yet all too often nothing happens. This observation formed the starting point of the curatorial concept developed by Lars Rummel and Marie Hinkelmann. 

In a week from October 18th to 23rd, DOK Neuland opened immersive space for criticism and vision with title “THX 4 Nothing” as part of the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. The works on display, including 6 VR experiences, 2 AR experiences and a 360° film, reveal rigid patterns of thought and behavior, break up traditional structures.

“THX 4 Nothing” exhibition focuses on both non-action on a political and institutional level and the responsibility of each individual. At the same time it reflects on the individual limits of personal agency. In their works, the artists involved illuminating different realities of life and asking the question of the state in which we will hand the world over to future generations.