Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss
Home of the Brain, 1990-92
A networked VR installation as virtual exhibition of philosophers’ thoughts. Golden Nica of Prix Ars Electronica 1992.
The Virtual Reality installation "Home of the Brain" not only reflects the new medium, but also the media discourse itself is exhibited here as a philosophical debate. The virtual environment features houses of philosophers represented as buildings of thought. They are dedicated to the ideas of Joseph Weizenbaum, Marvin Minsky, Paul Virilio and Vilém Flusser. Their opposing positions on digital culture become visible and audible as a battle of words - a heated debate. Statements, sentences and words build an interactive real-time landscape. With the help of the data glove, the visitor moves through this virtual discourse and literally dives into their thoughts. The audience observes this audio-visual scenario on a large projection screen. The navigator becomes the storyteller, while the audience takes on the role of the choir by commenting as in the theatre of antiquity. The theoretical discourse on new media, which normally takes place in books, is shifted into the virtual environment. Text fragments can be heard, like Vilém Flusser's quote: "People are getting worse, but technology is getting better. Minsky's view that there is no difference between the real you and your digital clone forms the narrative basis for the cognitive mood of virtual space. "Home of the Brain" is highly talkative and with its few text sources (4 x 4 text fragments) already allows a complex arrangement and combination of facts. Within texture maps of light, shadow and sound examples the navigator plays with the proportions of the objects. He acts weightlessly in a new world brain of networked computers - in the "Home of the Brain".
In principle, it is a non-linear piece. The duration of the visitors' stay depends on their interest in the virtual environment and their ability to see stereoscopically. Quite a few said they had forgotten time.
HP-Workstation, Silicon Graphics VGXT, Apple Mac 2, Head Mounted Display und Dataglove of VPL Research (Jaron Lanier, Tom Zimmerman)
Star UX 3D Geometry, Wavefront/Softimage, Inhouse Radiosity Rendering, VPL electric body data-management. Output: SGI Stereo-Rendering.
The VR headset version of Home Of The Brain is not available anymore. The work can be exhibited as a documentation with 3D slides, videos or pictures. Home Of The Brain was further developed in the work Murmuring Fields.
Text: © Monika Fleischmann, Wolfgang Strauss, Berlin, 8th October 2019
Production: Home of the Brain was developed by Monika Fleischmann & Wolfgang Strauss, Heads of Raumlabor at ART+COM. Cooperators: Edouard Bannwart, Dirk Lüsebrink, Uli Weinberg, Gavin Hodge, Hendrik Tramberend, Josef Speier. Supported by ART+COM e.V. and Deutsche Telekom/Berkom.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss are pioneering German media artists. They founded departments for interactive media art such as ART+COM in Berlin, the MARS (Media Arts and Research Studies) – Exploratory Media Lab and the eCulture Factory within German research institutions such as GMD (Gesellschaft für Mathematik und Datenverarbeitung) and Fraunhofer Society. In 1992, they received the Golden Nica for Interactive Art of the Prix Ars Electronica for „Home of the Brain“, the first artistic Virtual Reality installation. They are recipients of the 2018 ACM SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art. Their groundbreaking works on Virtual and Mixed Reality, semantic visualization and intuitive interfaces such as "Berlin-Cyber City", "Home of the Brain", "Liquid Views", "Energy-Passages", "Semantic Web" or "PointScreen" have been shown worldwide in art and science festivals, in museums and galleries. Like all their works, "Digital Sparks", an academic network and a student university competition archived on the media art learning platform "netzspannung.org", is also part of the collection of the ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe.
If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.