(c) André Zakhya

Breaking Glass II – The Virtual Image

Mousonturm Saal


The one-day conference, Breaking Glass II – The Virtual Image, is the second in a series of three that the Städelschule Architecture Class (SAC) hosts to address Virtual Reality in relation to architecture and the arts. The conference sees experts from the fields of neurophysiology, philosophy, architecture, and the arts address how Virtual Reality might affect the creative disciplines. More specifically, the conference will address the status of the image in Virtual Reality and its contribution to the processes through which we individually and collectively construct concepts of reality and form personal identity.

The one-day symposium explores the implications of Virtual Reality for the creative disciplines beyond pure consumption. The aim is to learn in particular from the recent advances in cognitive neuroscience which provide new insights into how we perceive the world and construct a sense of our “reality.” The available evidence suggests that our sense impression of the world is much more malleable and manipulable than previously thought. The plasticity of neural processes and the composition and functioning of the brain process individual experiences and inputs from the environment in a much more complex manner than previously thought. Virtual Reality plays an important role in decoding these processes. This, in turn, raises ethical issues related to the use of the technology.

Although Virtual Reality is a multi-sensory medium, the computer-generated image forms the backbone of Virtual Reality experiences. Breaking Glass II will explore this virtual image with respect to its immersive quality and so-called self-embodiment or bodily self-consciousness. This includes embracing themes such as the relation between immersion and empathy. The computer-generated and mediated image of Virtual Reality is technically and epistemologically altogether different than the photographic image that dominated cultural production in the 20th century. Hence, the virtual image invites new conceptual models for understanding the dynamics of the image construct and our relationship to this. Thus, the objective of the conference is in particular to learn from recent advances in cognitive neuroscience in relation to subjective perception, spatial cognition based on image processing, and the construction of reality.

Breaking Glass II – The Virtual Image presents the following guests:
Martine Beugnet, professor of Visual Studies, Université Paris Diderot; Marco Brambilla, artist, New York; Louisa Clement, artist, Berlin; Sanford Kwinter, professor of Theory & Criticism, Pratt Institute; Isabella Pasqualini, architect, PhD/architecture & cognitive neuroscience, EPFL; Edward Vessel, research scientist, The Max Planck Institut for Empirical Aesthetics, Liam Young, architect & filmmaker, Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today/Unknown Fields/Fiction & Entertainment, SCI-Arc.
The conference is moderated by professor Daniel Birnbaum, Städelschule and director at Acute Art, London, and professor Johan Bettum, Städelschule.

Session 1: 11:00 – 13:00
11:00 – 11:30              Welcome & Introduction: Johan  Bettum
11:30 – 12:00              Presentation 1: Empathy and the Penitentiary Gaze. On: Parragirls Past, Present, Martine Beugnet
12:00 – 12:30              Presentation 2: Uncanny rebel – The self in virtual transfiguration: Isabella Pasqualini
12:30 – 13:00              Presentation 3: Marco Brambilla

13:00 – 15:00              Lunch

Session 2: 15:00 – 18:00
15:00 – 15:30              Discussion Session 1: Moderated by Daniel Birnbaum and Johan Bettum
15:30 – 16:00              Presentation 4: Lousia Clement
16:00 – 16:30              Presentation 5: Liam Young
16:30 – 17:00              Presentation 6: Understanding Aesthetic Experiences: Edward Vessel
17:00 – 17:30              Presentation 7: Sanford Kwinter
17:30 – 18:00              Discussion Session 2: Moderated by Daniel Birnbaum and Johan Bettum

Language: English
The Mousonturm cafeteria will be open for visitors.

The festival comprises of a conference, Breaking Glass II on May 4, accompanied by Narratives in Boundless Space, an exhibition and an evening of public talks. Students of Curatorial Studies at the Goethe University and Städelschule host the latter on May 3 and engage students at the Städelschule Architecture Class in conversation about the work exhibited at Mousonturm. The exhibition presents Virtual Reality projects produced by members of Städelschule’s Master Thesis studio, Architecture and Aesthetic Practice, and opens on May 1 and runs through May 5.