INTO WORLDS. The Craft of Blurring Boundaries
Eight hours a day, five days a week, a period of five years, dedicated to doing one single thing: According to the so-called “10,000 Hour Rule”, this is how to achieve a mastery that can be seen as the agents’ becoming one with their material – a form of immersion which Richard Sennett examined in his publication “The Craftsman” (2008). Whether it is the dexterity of the instrumentalist, the technique of an actor or the extensive routine of glassblowers –intense practise is always the prerequisite for immersion in spaces, spheres or even worlds.
The conference “INTO WORLDS” will explore three different areas of the immersive arts: physical techniques and crafts, spectacular entertainment formats, ranging from vertiginous funfair attractions to virtual reality, and spiritual mental practices between religious contemplation and meditative self-optimisation. Immersion is revealed to be an ambivalent movement. One the one hand, it stands for obliviousness of self or of the media, for spiritual exercise or ecstasy, but on the other, it gives cause for repudiation and critical reflection: Who creates these various worlds that we participate in daily? How are they created? And to what purpose? Which roles do we get caught up in and how do we contribute to forming these worlds?
Immersive phenomena are creating fascinating and unsettling modes of perception in our society, causing the dissolution of familiar contrapositions like internal and external, public and private, biology and technology. Strategies towards the dissolution of boundaries, generated by the internet and social networks, have become part of our everyday lives, but often remaining discrete, and not always perceptible at first glance. To improve our understanding of the relationship between activity and passivity in subjective and public spheres of action, the concept of immersion is a helpful tool, not only to describe artistic working practises, but also to mark current models of politics, communication and work.
Between 19 and 21 January 2018, the Lichthof of the Martin-Gropius-Bau (designed for this event by Eva Veronica Born) will become a conference venue where artists and researchers will enter into an open exchange with the audience. The focus will not only lie on mechanisms of immersion, but also on the ability to emerge and on a reflective outside perspective on worlds that no longer sanction any outside.