How To Overcome The Body – Part I
Symposium 04 July 2021
2 pm – 4 pm
How To Overcome The Body is a research project focussing on the potential of the digital space, the relationship between body and virtuality and its political dimensions. Can visual attributes – such as gender, race and physical ability – be subverted by technology or is this an utopian concept? How To Overcome The Body is part of the exhibition programme of Journey Through a Body at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf [see full programme]
Queer(ing) Virtual Reality
by Franziska Wagner
"My input about Queer(ing) Virtual Reality (VR) focuses on the complex relationship between technology, reality, material and virtual bodies during the experience of VR-projects. The virtual body and the related moving image are produced by technology, whereas the VR-goggles are the most important component in visualizing the moving image and the virtual body for the recipients. With regard to posthumanist theories this implies a new dimension of the connection of humans and machines. Therefore, the distinction between human body and the technical apparatus vanishes and the question arises how this relation can be described. In the immediate context, it shall be discussed what this means in terms of queer theory and if VR movies can be considered as queer objects (cf. Ahmed 2006). Therefore, it shall be observed to which extent perspective and transmission of movement serve as essential parts for a queer perspective in VR-projects."
Changing Bodies Changing Minds in Immersive Virtual Reality
by Domna Banakou
"My research focuses on immersive virtual reality (IVR) and how people respond to events within virtual environments. I’m attracted by the idea of simulating situations that are difficult (or impossible) to realize in physical reality, and I am especially interested in the topic of bodily representation. I focus mostly on studying transformations of the virtual bodily appearance, inspired by body ownership illusions as studied in cognitive neuroscience. My work explores the perceptual, behavioral, and higher level cognitive correlates of body ownership illusions that occur as a function of the type of body in which embodiment occurs. This talk will focus on the use of embodiment techniques in IVR to bring about positive change, and specifically, to address empathy. First, emphasis will be given on the influence of owning a different race body on racial discrimination, a social phenomenon of increasing interest over the past decade, with concrete examples from the literature and two recent studies on how implicit racial bias can be modulated in the long-term and under different social contexts. Next embodiment will be discussed in the context of parenting and violence offense, with two studies showing that embodying mothers in a child’s body improves their empathy towards their children’s needs and that embodiment of violence offenders in a woman's body can modulate emotion recognition. Last, important ethical considerations that arise from the use of IVR related to the above topics will be introduced."
by Kate Cooper
In her video and photographic work, Kate Cooper explores how computer-generated images are complicating the division between subject and object. Her 2018 video „Infection Drivers“ presents a body in conflict with itself. In the work, a computer-generated woman wears a translucent suit that inflates and deflates, evoking exaggerated stereotypes of gendered bodies. Through the use of CGI technology, the artist also challenges accepted understandings of the body’s limitations. Her avatar gets tired and sick, bleeds and is bruised. By destabilizing the notion that a “natural” body stands in contrast to “man-made” media, Infection Drivers raises the question of whether digital technologies could create their own sanctuary sites, which could potentially incubate and give rise to new forms of anti-capitalist logic. Ultimately, Cooper invites us to consider whether “bodies” produced by emerging technologies might contain new forms of political potential and self-care.
Franziska Wagner is a research assistant and PhD candidate at the Institute for Media Studies at the Braunschweig University of Arts. Their PhD project is about the interconnection and intra-action between bodies, spaces and time in VR as well as the queer potential they see in it. Their current research focus are Virtual Reality Projects, Media Theory, Queer Theory and Media Philosophy. Latest publications are „Pride for everyone? Accesses to prides in virtual spaces“ and „Within reach? Approaches to the relation between proximity and distance in VR movies“, which also won the Karsten Witte Preis for the best German-language article in film studies in 2020.
Dr Domna Banakou is a postdoctoral researcher at the Event Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology) at the University of Barcelona. She completed her PhD in clinical psychology and psychobiology at the University of Barcelona (2017). She also holds a Master’s degree in computer graphics, vision and imaging from University College London, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Ionian University, Greece. She combines technical expertise and experience in research methodologies to understand and promote the use of virtual reality in the fields of psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
The artist Kate Cooper (1984, United Kingdom) was recently in residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and at the Saari Residence in Hietamäki, Finland. Her work has been shown at venues including the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Tate Modern, London; Sonic Acts, Amsterdam; Public Art Fund, New York; International Center of Photography, New York; Serralves Museum, Porto; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and has been featured at the Riga Photography Biennial and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.