12th Havana Biennial – “Between the Idea and Experience”
Pierre Lévy is one of the authors that has spoken on the virtuality concepts. According to Lévy: imagination, memory, knowledge and religion have been the very first aspects of virtualization since they have brought about the abandonment of the physical space long before computerization and digital networks did. Nevertheless, that process has not stopped us from continuing to exist. The development in telecommunications has conditioned our senses’ experience: the phone for hearing, television for sight, telemanipulation systems for tact and motor-sense interaction. All these devices virtualize our senses and eventually create “virtualized organs”.
Virtualization recreates a nomadic culture, not by means of a return to the Paleolithic age or the ancient civilizations of shepherds, but through the creation of an environment of social interactions where relations are reshaped using a minimum of inertia. Nowadays, virtualization affects not only information and communication but also the bodies, the economic functioning, the collective framework of sensitivity or the exercise of intelligence. Virtualization reaches out even to virtual communities, virtual enterprises, virtual democracy, etc. Though, digitalization of cyberspace plays an important role on the ongoing mutation, it all comes down to a background wave that exceeds by far computerization.
Oculus is one of the most effective devices to establish a connection between humans and virtualized spaces. It is commonly used to enhance the experience when playing video games. However, the Oculus options allow to carry out other types of synesthetic explorations such as those using present reality.
Application (App), Creation and Display
Malla Net is a web application that gives the possibility of creating virtual worlds (metaverse) in which today’s world can be uploaded to the internet. The piece has been developed using open sources and is published under MIT license. It also assumes the collaborative paradigm as a creation process. Malla Net 2.0 emerges as a tool to explore the internet as space and the social relations structured from it. Virtualized worlds are displayed in subdomains that facilitate the users’ immersions in the internet through virtual reality devices.
The piece takes place in El Fanguito, a suburban neighborhood created and mostly composed of the unscheduled settlement of its inhabitants, who don’t have cybernetic virtuality as a priority in their imaginary. Taking into account that the Havana Biennial is focused on the displaying of multidisciplinary creation processes, supported by scientific activity; Malla Net 2.0 project combines artistic worries with pragmatic ones. That is the reason why the piece is intended to have a dual sense, the application and the artistic experimentation. Besides the semiotic value the piece contains regarding multi-sensitive experience and present reflection on the new systems of human communication, it also pays special attention to the use it has as an application to upload, for example, architectonic spaces. Such spaces can be used later not only as files but also as virtual models to achieve, perhaps, a greater sense of space and enhance human experience inside of it.
During the action and experimentation process of Malla Net 2.0 in the community, all visual information resulting from the scanning of elements such as: people, objects, natural or architectonic spaces will be saved in the repository of the application. This repository will become a sort of ethnographic document on the value of the collective memory of that social micro space. Just like an ethnographer, the artist registers and organizes his field notes and turns them into permanent records to later move on to the analytic stage of memory and filed diaries. The repository recognizes among its procedures these concepts.
The piece stimulates reflection about the new ways of social relations, apprehension of reality, artistic representation and present conditions supported by virtual credibility. The anthropological record and the documentation were since the beginning the main functions of cinema and photography. Even though other tendencies such as conceptualism accelerated the legitimization of these expressive languages, its importance required a special attention, especially after the creation of postmodern art theories. The development of technology and its interconnection channels have encouraged other logics of representing art as well. This kind of work refuses to be framed or moved when going from the real world to the virtual one through a sensory experience. An experience that interrupts the mimesis and expression codes to make room for the immersion ones.
Claudia Taboada Churchman
Lévy, P. Qué es lo virtual. Paidós, Barcelona, 1999.
Crapanzano, V. Hermes’ dilemma: lbe masking of subversion in ethnographic description, en J. Clifford y G. E. Marcus (eds.), Writing culture. The poelies and politics ethnography, Berkeley, University of California, 1986, p. 51.
Try VR-Hole app: http://studio.vrhole.net/