The first virtual reality art installation

A weekly digest charting developments across live performance, technology, and the emerging Metaverse

Entangled Histories

The first virtual reality art installation

This week we're looking back to the award winning virtual reality installation Home of the Brain (1992) by Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss. The work not only provoked audiences to reflect on virtual reality as a new medium but also the philosophical debates about technology itself—made visible as an interactive 3D real-time landscape of combative statements, sentences and words.

Textures morphed from images of fire, water, air, and earth as viewers encountered geometric structures inhabited by opposing media philosophers and computer scientists Joseph Weizenbaum, Vilem Flusser, Marvin Minsky and Paul Virilio. Their competing assertions of hope, adventure, utopia and catastrophe were made audible as sounds of whispering trees in the cube, the crackling of fire in the pyramid, the rush of water in the sphere, a hurricane in the octahedron.

With the help of a data glove, each audience member could become the navigator and storyteller, following their own interests and paths through the work; while others watched the audiovisual installation on a large projection screen, taking on the role of the choir in the theatre of antiquity.

The work stands as an early example of rethinking the virtual as a symbolic space—one that invites the meeting of architecture, contradicting thoughts, philosophical positions, and radical viewpoints. Home of the Brain serves as a metaphor for a completely new kind of public space for cultural and philosophical reflection on emerging technology.

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Part aggregator, part independent journal, Skrim is a weekly digest charting developments across live performance, technology, and the Metaverse. Skrim is delivered every Tuesday to your inbox.