A new technological universe has created new artistic landscapes. During this conference, artists, curators, activists and industry professionals who work at the intersection of contemporary art and digital technologies, will take us deep into the metaverse, a shared space at the nexus of the virtual and the physical that is gaining increased attention as a space for artistic production and experiences. How are we interacting with it, and how can we shape its future direction in a more ethical and collaborative manner?
Through talks, discussions, and presentations, the speakers will share their insights and explore key questions such as: What are the forms of artistic practices at the intersection of the physical and the virtual? How do artists, using these technologies, engage with the ethical, social, and environmental implications? How can we counter big tech in deciding what the metaverse is and can become? And what role do we, as participants, play in shaping the future direction?
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After a series of workshops at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, the conference will open on Friday at 8 p.m. at De Balie with the Dutch premiere screening of Ian Cheng’s Life after BOB: The Chalice Study, followed by a conversation with Ian Cheng. It will coincide with the opening of a presentation of works by various artists working with metaverse technologies and themes.
On Saturday from 10.30 a.m. until 6 p.m. different discursive programmes will take place. Speakers are amongst others Morehshin Allahyari, Ian Cheng, Ali Eslami, Micaela Mantegna, Trevor McFedries and Chao Tayiana. Full programme to be announced soon.
On Sunday, the presentation of artworks will remain open for the public (free of charge).
The multi-year research project Art in the Age of the Metaverse is a collaboration between the Hartwig Art Foundation and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, conducted by Memory Gems. The international conference is organised together with De Balie.
(Artwork: Kévin Bray, graphic design: Clara Lezla)
About the speakers
Morehshin Allahyari (Persian: موره شین اللهیاری), is a NY based Iranian-Kurdish artist using 3D simulation, video, sculpture, and digital fabrication as tools to re-figure myth and history. Through archival practices and storytelling, her work weaves together complex counternarratives in opposition to the lasting influence of Western technological colonialism in the context of SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa). Her work has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops at venues throughout the world, including the New Museum, MoMa, Centre Pompidou, Venice Biennale di Architecture, and Museum für Angewandte Kunst amongst many others.
Ali Eslami is an Iranian artist based in Amsterdam. His work deals with long-term, practice-based research that builds and grows over time through speculative thinking and world-building. Exploring simulations and models as conditions that can be exercised and pushed to limits through play, which often results in the form of poetic engineering. He uses VR as a vessel to further investigate the shifting roles of form and function that create virtual worlds—shaping synthetic realities that challenge the player and cycles between the real and unreal. In 2016, his VR project won the IDFA DocLab Award for “Best Immersive non-fiction”. And in 2020 the Golden Calf for Best interactive at NederlandsFilm Festival with fellow artist Mamali Shafahi for Nerd_Funk project.
Trevor McFedries is the founder of Friends With Benefits, Web3’s premier Social DAO, as well as the Founder and former CEO of Dapper Collectives, an organization dedicated to decentralizing media and social via DAOs. McFedries is the creator of virtual pop star Lil Miquela and founded technology startup Brud, which was recently acquired by Dapper Labs. Since its inception in 2017, Brud has raised funds from Sequoia Capital, Spark Capital, and SV Angel amongst others. Friends With Benefits pioneered social tokens and counts Andreesen Horowitz, Spark, Pace Capital, and Kindred Ventures as investors.
Chao Tayiana is a Kenyan digital heritage specialist and digital humanities scholar that works at the intersection of history, digitisation and public education. She uses digital technologies to unearth previously hidden or suppressed historical narratives, make these accessible to a wide audience and enable communities to engage with their cultural heritage. She has a background in computer science and heritage studies, as well as extensive experience working in the cultural sector in multiple capacities.
Marina Otero Verzier
Dr. Marina Otero Verzier is Head of the MA Social Design Masters at DAE. In 2022 she received Harvard’s Wheelwright Prize for a project on the future of data storage. From 2015 to 2022, she was the Director of Research at HNI, where she led initiatives focused on labor, extraction, and mental health from a post-anthropocentric perspective, including ‘Automated Landscapes,’ and ‘BURN-OUT.’
Barbara Cueto is the Digital Curator of C/O Berlin. Her projects are at the intersection of contemporary art, new technologies and activism. She has published, convened and curated projects internationally at institutions like Singapore Art Museum, Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Marres in Maastricht, Impakt Festival in Utrecht, and de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam, all in the Netherlands; MMOMA Moscow for the 6th Moscow Biennale for Young Art in Russia(RU); Asian Culture Centre in Gwangju and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul in South Korea (SK); La Casa Encendida in Madrid (ES); Bétonsalon in Paris;. She has also been resident at Tokyo Wondersite in Japan, Rupert in Lithuania, and Cité des Arts in Paris.
Micaela Mantegna is an activist and video game evangelist pursuing scholarship in digital realities, especially the metaverse. She is authoring work on how to create equity and protect our rights in these emergent areas, which are fast becoming civic spaces for engagement.
Keiken is an artist collective, co-founded by Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos in 2015, Based between London and Berlin, they come from mixed diasporic backgrounds (Mexican/Japanese/European/Jewish). Keiken’s collective title is taken from the Japanese word for experience; the lived experience being an idea at the core of their practice. They are collaboratively building and imagining a Metaverse to simulate new structures and ways of existing and to test-drive possible futures. The metaverse is a fully immersive virtual space of multiple worlds, which allows Keiken to become the architects and collaborators of the future. The metaverse pierces our perceptions of reality and defies all that we know.
GVN and Arthur Röing Baer are the co-founders of Moving Castles, a game design studio researching and developing Autonomous Worlds and on-chain games. They have published influential essays on world building and online community governance, like ‘Moving Castles: Modular and Portable Multiplayer Miniverses’ and ‘Three Eras of World Generation’. The studio is currently composed of PWR, Manus Nijhoff and Agnes Cameron.
GVN is a world designer with a background in cinema and procedural storytelling. Alumni of Fabrica, the Jan Van Eyck Academie, the Sandberg Instituut and lecturer on real-time CG at Goldsmiths University, London and Staedelschule, Frankfurt.
Arthur Röing Baer is co-founder of Trust, a tech and arts online community & space in Berlin. Previously head of growth at FOAM. Postgrad Design research program, Strelka Institute, Moscow. MA, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam.