The exhibition spaces and installations were created using video game development tools (Unreal Engine) that simulate real-time scenes and lighting effects. Exhibition visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the surroundings of each installation and can move freely in the room and choose any observation point.
The exhibition’s initiators and creators are VOLNA, an art collective from St. Petersburg, Russia. Since its formation in 2016, the group has dedicated itself to creating light art that incorporates interdisciplinary artistic practices and new technologies. The artists are known for their unusual exhibition formats, monumental installations and scenographic creations for the electronic music scene. Throughout its four years of existence, VOLNA has maintained financial and aesthetic independence by creating 17 light installations and over 30 stage designs for festivals and performances.
The following works were reconstructed for the exhibition: the audiovisual installations NEUBAU (2016), Powerline (2017) and Rotor (2018), the light installation Octave (2018), the installation Vague (2019), and two kinetic light installations, Duel (2019) and Nymphéas (2020).
Despite the site-specific nature of the works, the overarching artistic principle behind all of them is the search for a universal language of pure forms. These forms, which correspond to the abstract subjects of the installations, are refined freed of excessive details, minimalistic in their expressiveness and often even have a functional nature.
The primary expressive element in VOLNA’s work is light and its various characteristics, its interaction with space, as well as its movement, the rhythm of chiaroscuro and the way chiaroscuro scenarios unfold in relation to time. Some works include synchronized sound, created to interact closely with the light’s dramaturgy.
The virtual exhibition space itself is heterotopic and at the same time proportional to the original exhibition locations. The model exhibits displayed inside it are as close as possible to their real prototypes and preserve the original structural details, including the nature of the lighting and scenarios behind each of the live installations. The original sound design and ambient sound environments are reproduced, and each work’s context and theme are discussed in an accompanying text.
This online exhibition represents the first time VOLNA’s enthusiasm for pragmatic production processes has been reflected in a simulated world. For this reason, only works that were realized in the material world were selected for display.
The exhibition is characterized by the presence of real space, living according to its own laws in another (virtual) space, as well as the merging of virtual and real spaces, a synthesis of various methods for transmitting information and their hypertextuality. As media historian Norbert Bolz once put it, in media reality “thematically structured visual worlds are supposed to bring a surreal condensation of the experience: more real than reality.”
Accepting this challenge, the exhibition “Keep Yourself Clean” attempts to embrace all the real and virtual layers of information that make up each of the works, and then let the works themselves become the determinants of perception. With their help, each of the contexts will “re-sort” in the virtual world, rethink and obey the laws of perception, and each work, in turn, will become an experience of sensory contemplation. We hope this experience will be personal and genuine for each viewer.