INSTALLATION

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023
Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023
Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023
Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023
Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023
Paradise Lost, immersive VR and AR installation for VR Kunstpreis Berlin, 2023

The title Paradise Lost refers to the epic poem of the same name by John Milton, published in 1667. Originally composed in ten, later expanded to twelve books, the epic describes the story of the fall of the angels, the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan, the fall from grace, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Particularly in the tenth book, the consequences of the fall from grace are depicted. The once idyllic paradise landscape undergoes dramatic changes, with summers and winters bringing heat, cold, storms, and tempests. An existential struggle for existence ensues. Adam and Eve bitterly recognize their sin, through which they violated divine command and forfeited their happiness in paradise.

The connection to the 21st century lies in the catastrophic effects of climate change resulting from the unrestrained consumption patterns of industrialized nations. The destruction of nature, deforestation of rainforests, loss of habitat, droughts, rising sea levels, and species extinction are the consequences with which humanity will have to contend in the future. Many aspects of this lost paradise will only be experienced in the artificial realm, as artificial virtual nature will have to replace real nature.

The immersive VR artwork Paradise Lost depicts a tropical jungle landscape that completely envelops the viewer. In lush vegetation, bizarre plants thrive, towering upward, while vines hang down from jungle giants, forming impenetrable thickets. Abstract forms reminiscent of colorful birds, shimmering butterflies, and insects flutter through the space, while vibrant blossoms evoke the biodiversity of rainforests.

The goal of the installation is to create a connection between the immersive virtual space and the physical world, engaging all the senses of the viewers. A round structure with hanging ribbons of felt or heavy fabric serves as the physical metaphor for the jungle awaiting the viewers in virtual reality. In the center hangs the headset; visitors must first push aside the curtain of ribbons to reach the center of the installation. At the same time, the ribbons are meant to sensorially disturb the viewers who are in the virtual world under the headset, enabling a synesthetic experience as they rotate and move within the installation. The floor consists of a carpet of Flokati or artificial turf, padded with foam to create the sensation of standing on soft forest ground. Also hanging from the ceiling is a speaker in the middle of the installation, hidden among the ribbons, emitting sound effects of jungle noises. This soundscape is intended to encourage visitors to enter the installation.

The two sculptures of the AR artwork symbolize the fall from grace. One botanical structure resembles epiphytes, which absorb water and nutrients from the air through their leaves, a reference to increasing dry periods due to climate change. Round golden fruits allude to the tree of forbidden fruit. Another totemistic structure represents the mythical-kinship connection of humans to certain natural phenomena of animal or vegetal origin. The twisted form with its camouflage pattern also symbolizes the snake, which triggers the fall from grace through its seductive arts.

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