VCT ACTIVATION 2023
Navigating Art and Technology
Molecules gracefully float in a pastel-colored expanse, accompanied by meditative music, where space and time relinquish their significance, allowing for an immersion into a captivating alternative reality.
Enter “The Fetch,” an immersive experience meticulously crafted by Austrian artist Christiane Peschek. The artwork is a composition of Peschek’s “fetched” online data, weaving together her “virtual aura” and materializing the traces left behind by humans in an increasingly digital existence.
“The Fetch” is the inaugural creation commissioned by viennacontemporary within the framework of VCT ACTIVATION, a project initiated in collaboration with the US technology company Meta Platforms and the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts.
In times when the boundaries between reality and digitality are becoming increasingly blurred, this pioneering program delves into virtual realities, supporting artists in harnessing new technologies.
Courtesy: Christiane Peschek
Francesca Gavin, Artistic Director of viennacontemporary and curator of the VCT ACTIVATION exhibition 2023, remarks, “We have witnessed the explosion of digital art in the past five years, notably during the pandemic, when we were all glued to our screens.” Gavin observes artists seamlessly integrating the digital into their works, whether through augmented reality, virtual reality, AI, or moving images.
Gavin views this trend as a significant milestone, stating, “Working with Meta is an incredible coup for any art fair. Having the opportunity to commission creative, innovative artwork in conjunction with the latest hardware is a huge privilege.”
Christiane Peschek, the mastermind behind “The Fetch,” underscores the significance of this collaboration for the art scene, stating, “VCT ACTIVATION positions Vienna and Austria in a pioneering role internationally, as digital art has become an integral part of artistic practice. Access to hardware and the newest technologies is essential and often the determining factor in whether virtual art can be finalized and presented.”
With the renowned MAK, viennacontemporary has found another important partner for the new program. Hardly any other institution in Austria has been as passionately dedicated to the interface between art and technology as the MAK, for example in the exhibitions “Uncanny Values. Artificial Intelligence & You” (2019) or “/imagine: A Journey into The New Virtual” (2023), which was on display during the fair.
Marlies Wirth, Curator of Digital Culture and Head of the Design Collection at the MAK, emphasizes: “Art, design, and architecture have always been pioneers in the exploration of new technologies. I am therefore all the more pleased about the cooperation with viennacontemporary, which will focus on this exciting topic in the coming years.”
Photos: Tim Dornaus
As part of VCT ACTIVATION 2023, three opinion leaders in the field of art and design explored in a captivating series of lectures in the MAK’s Column Hall. They explored the intricate interplay between design, art, the virtual world, and the latest developments in the metaverse.
Zach Stubenvoll, Head of Design at Meta, shared insights into graphically reflecting the company’s rapidly advancing technological capabilities and their impact on daily lives. “What does it mean when you move from the physical world into a virtual, mixed or even augmented reality? Just as platforms are constantly changing the way we communicate, you also have to rethink design completely.” He emphasized how exciting and challenging it is for designers to graphically accompany the newest technologies merging the physical and digital worlds.
In his talk “Now is Better”, Stefan Sagmeister, renowned Austrian designer with an impressive list of international clients, Fulbright Scholar, a graduate of the Pratt Institute, New York, and frequent guest at the MAK, reflected on the imperative to acknowledge the value and enduring beauty of analog elements amid the ongoing wave of digitalization.
Paula Strunden, founder of the online education initiative XR Atlas and a Ph.D. candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts in the Design Lead department, guided visitors through a fascinating journey of her art installations focusing on architecture. Through VR technology, Strunden creates immersive experiences, playfully merging the virtual and physical worlds, inviting participants to interact not only with objects and environments but also with each other.
The enthusiastic response and high visitor numbers to the inaugural edition of VCT ACTIVATION attest to the program’s success. Francesca Gavin remarks, “It highlights how the fair continues to be a litmus test for new creative ideas and artmaking. Here the fair is not just a marketplace but a space for collaboration, experimentation, and new ideas.” We look forward to seeing how this pioneering initiative will shape the future of art.