Frankfurter Kunstverein - Frankfurt am Main
07 / 10 / 2017 – 07 / 01 / 2018

The Frankfurter Kunstverein presents the thematic group exhibition Perception is Reality: On the Construction of Reality and Virtual Worlds. The invited artists examine the new conditions of human perception in relation to technically constructed realities.

As one of the first exhibition houses in Germany, the Frankfurter Kunstverein integrates a new forward-looking medium, virtual reality, into a contemporary art exhibition. The exhibition presents a range of analogue and digital works, virtual reality works from recent artistic production, conceptual photography, installations, technical forensics applications as well as innovative games. Through their spatial juxtaposition, a kind of thought experiment will emerge for the audience, raising questions about the intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic implications of artificial visual worlds.

“The exhibition poses questions about the basic conditions of perception today and how we construct our own conception of reality out of them. Technological systems are connecting people, data, and processes more and more closely together. Immersive technologies will increasingly replace analogue surroundings with virtual data rooms, therefore radically changing the way that we interact socially, work, and how we organize our free time,” according to Franziska Nori, director of the Kunstverein and curator of the exhibition.

A matter left mostly to the experts until recently, VR technologies carry the promise of immersing the user into an augmented reality, a digitally created environment, and integrating them into a 360° perspective illusion independently of space and time. They aim to create the most immediate perception possible, incorporating the user’s senses and emotions, who is isolated from the real world by means of headsets and headphones, so that the user can then move and act within this virtually created reality.

Which industries will further develop the potential of this virtual experience space, and with what intent? It is a question of the influence on the viewer. Who conceives of and designs the content of a virtual experience? Which emotional and intellectual reactions should be triggered?

Even if actions within a virtual arena of spectacle remain without any real consequences – from criminal offenses to bodily limit experiences—they produce an intense experience in the human brain which is perceived as real and exist as a new category on the spectrum of human experience within an individual’s neural structure, which is subsequently stored as a long-term memory.

What challenges arise for our brain when technically produced virtual worlds increasingly play a role in our lives? How real are our pictures, how real are our experiences? Which perceptions does our brain use to construct an idea, or its own idea, of reality? Which parameters do pictures need to fulfill in order for people to accept them as real?

The juxtaposition of analogue contemporary art and Virtual Reality stations creates a choreography throughout the Frankfurter Kunstverein, which makes crucial observations on the relationship between perception, consciousness, and knowledge-based reason and asks which idea of the world we derive from these.

The invited artists and designers create analogue and virtual spaces in which the viewer has both physical and mental experiences. They experience the spaces with their senses and try to gauge the limits of expectation, illusion, and reality in these constructed visual worlds.

The exhibition opens up a mental space for contemplating the complex relationship between the conditions of perception, the resultant constructs, and the idea of reality in the light of technological innovations through immersive VR technology. An extensive programme of lectures by experts from various fields as well as public discussions and talks will accompany the exhibition.

Partecipating artists:  Thomas Demand, Alicja Kwade, Marnix de Nijs, Hans Op de Beeck, David OReilly, Manuel Roßner, Bayerisches Landeskriminalamt, Christin Marczinzik & Thi Binh Minh Nguyen, and Toast.