The Fear Of Disappearing

The Fear Of Disappearing

Kathi Schulz
by prinzessinplastik on 31 May 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

The Fear Of Disappearing is a VR Art Game, located at the intersection of painting and new technologies, focusing on the transferability of artistic approaches. The piece addresses questions regarding the interpretation of reality and perception.

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The Fear Of Disappearing is an interactive VR Art Game focusing on the intersection of painting and new technologies. By applying traditional approaches of abstract painting into the virtual space, I create three-dimensional paintings. I am developing a new visual language in which the boundaries between art and technology dissolve. In The Fear Of Disappearing, I deal with the interpretation of reality and perception.

The piece addresses the disembodiment of the player in the virtual space and provokes a reflection on the limitations of VR technologies by investigating the mind-body connection and how the perception of this relationship alters when transferring from the physical into the virtual world. Guided by the abstract narratives and instructions of an AI-persona, the player is led through virtual spaces while being confronted with questions about self-perception: What defines our self and our consciousness? Are we defined by our bodies or thoughts?

Spaces and objects trigger a sense of recognition but by omitting important information I create abstract, enigmatic universes that cause irritation. The player is thrown back on their own experiences and stories and ultimately on themselves. A field of tension is created between pristine landscapes, promising visions of the future, and new technologies. My raw landscapes represent a dystopia, to which irresponsible and unethical interference with nature and use of technologies and AI lead us. Opposed to this visual dystopic potentiality stands the narrative, the processing of individual experiences through examining the definition of the self and one's own consciousness. In this utopic vision, the advancements of art, technology, and science lead to improved communication possibilities and increased empathy.

In many VR pieces, the intention and visual aesthetics are secondary and the art components are instrumentalized by technology. With The Fear Of Disappearing, I  create a Gesamtkunstwerk in which art and technology have the same value. Painting all elements of the game by applying techniques and working methods from canvas enabled me to transfer form, language, atmosphere, and my approach to painting into the virtual space. I create a strong connection between the two media by transferring aesthetic approaches from one to the other. 

A process of creation that is situated between painting and sculpting but not entirely comparable with either since it opens the door to a new concept of art and gameplay in which the definition of painting, sculpture, player, and viewer has to be renegotiated. Using VR Technologies I do not only aesthetically depict the penetration of analog and digital worlds, the complexity of relationships, networks, and digital communication but allow the player to experience it. 

Installation View : REALITY CHECK, 2020 

The scope of my graduation show reality check at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany  consisted not only of the above-mentioned VR piece The Fear of Disappearing but also of corresponding lage-scale oil paintings, with both forms of artistic expression being strongly interreferential in terms of content and form, entering into an exciting dialogue with one another.

My paintings communicate the complex relationship between reality and perception while containing subtle leads to internet culture and new technologies. They accommodate their very own narrative by depicting moments of assumption driven by the longing for recognition. Abstract places are evoked without following a feasible concept of space and perspective. Organic shapes lure the viewer into the depth of the paintings whereas straight angular frames and shapes protectively block the unrestricted gaze. Working in different layers allows me to partly reveal my process. Opposed to the gestural brushstrokes stand pseudo-realistic elements. The thin surface layers crack open, exposing negative form elements. 

The dissolution of the elements and the merging of fore- and background suggest a narrative that is part of a mysterious place and time. The cryptic signs refer to digital transformation: the paradox of symbols, depicting signified and signifier at the same time, like digital data does, using only itself as a reference point. I play with truth and pretense and thus with the perception of the beholder. Upon further examination, the spaces and elements are not what they appear to be. The illusion of a notion that triggered the beholders' memory dissolves, inviting them to delve into their own memories and experiences.

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