/imagine: A Journey into The New Virtual

/imagine: A Journey into The New Virtual

MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna

May 4, 2023
/imagine: A Journey into The New Virtual
May 10–September 10, 2023
Opening: May 9, 7–9pm
MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Stubenring 5
1010 Vienna
Hours: Tuesday 10am–9pm,
Wednesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +43 1 711360
Instagram / Facebook / #thenewvirtual

In virtual space, visionary designs and fictional scenarios for architecture and urban planning can be imagined and distributed beyond the limitations of the real world. Computational tools that are now widely accessible and the socio-technical aspects of the Internet have not only revolutionized the creative process and concept development in architecture and design, but have expanded our understanding of how we shape, experience, and navigate space.

/imagine: A Journey into The New Virtual brings together projects from a new generation of imaginative creators, who are not only from the field of architecture, but a range of backgrounds and disciplines, including landscape design, interior and product design, urban planning, visual arts, game design, and film. Together, they represent a distinct and recent manifestation of The New Virtual that deals with the challenges and potential of virtual worlds, as well as the associated social, ecological, political, and infrastructural effects.

Divided into four overlapping sections, the exhibition presents common threads within The New Virtual:

Speculative Narratives and Worldbuilding focuses on storytelling through film, VR, and games, offering critical, optimistic as well as provocative visions of the future. Here the creators use their speculative narratives to address complex and pressing issues, such as climate change, resource depletion, and social inequality.

Research Investigations looks at how data and 3D modeling can serve as research tools to investigate historical artifacts and develop narratives critical of predominant Western colonial attitudes, particularly with regard to digital data and virtual spaces. The projects in this section consider the opportunities and pitfalls of the (still nascent) sociopolitical regulation of online and metaverse content.

Dreamscapes presents hyper-realistic renderings of utopian spaces and surreal landscapes that often go viral on social media. Highly stylized and imaginative, these images tend to feature escapist moments of luxury and relaxation, drawing inspiration from the visual vocabulary of modern and postmodern architecture.

AI and Algorithmic Variation showcases projects that expand the use of AI and algorithms (such as Midjourney) beyond formalistic exploration, offering an ecological perspective or a communal approach. They demonstrate that algorithmic design can not only be used to create futuristic and impossible architectural visions, but also to factor in variables such as energy efficiency, sustainable material usage, and biodiversity.

While not exhaustive, the exhibition aims to present a freeze-frame in the constant evolution of virtual space design. Mostly looking at the last decade (2013–2023), /imagine: features critical, interactive, participatory, playable, and hyper-realistic works from younger generations in a variety of media, such as renderings, CGI visualizations, 3D animations and prints, digital films, and virtual reality, as well as blockchain projects and video games. It includes several newly commissioned and recent works that are being shown for the first time in a museum.

By envisioning new ways of building and designing in virtual space that may not yet be feasible or realistic, the projects presented in this exhibition push the boundaries of the built environment, sparking conversations about the role of architecture and design in shaping the world around us.

Some Place Studio, an architecture office based in Vienna and Berlin, has created a custom exhibition display inspired by visual tropes taken from 3D digital worlds and rendering processes. The graphic interface for the exhibition and website is designed by Process – Studio for Art and Design.

/imagine: is the command that allows users to create their own architectural utopias with the open-source software Midjourney. Based on a text prompt, an AI algorithm generates images that can be infinitely varied.

Morehshin Allahyari, Alisa Andrasek, Matias del Campo & Sandra Manninger (SPAN), Alexis Christodoulou, Formundrausch, Genevieve Goffman, Kordae Jatafa Henry, Miriam Hillawi Abraham, iheartblob, Simone C. Niquille (/technoflesh Studio), Lee Pivnik (The Institute of Queer Ecology), Andrés Reisinger (REISINGER), Jose Sanchez (Plethora Project), Space Popular, Studio Mary Lennox, Studio Precht, Charlotte Taylor, Leah Wulfman, Liam Young, Zyva Studio, 2MVD.

Bika Rebek, Architect and Principal, Some Place Studio
Marlies Wirth, Curator Digital Culture and MAK Design Collection 

Exhibition design
Some Place Studio

Graphic design
Process—Studio for Art and Design

All texts and information about the exhibited works will be available on the project website once the exhibition is open: thenewvirtual.org

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MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
May 4, 2023

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