After months of lockdown, Basel’s HeK reopens with “Shaping the Invisible World – Digital Cartography as an Instrument of Knowledge.” Curated by Boris Magrini and Christine Schranz, the show unfolds “spectacular panoramas and virtual scenarios” that reveal how digital technologies affect our understanding of the world. Works by James Bridle, Lukács & Broersen (image: Forest on Location, 2018), Trevor Paglen, and Fei Jun, for example, subvert contemporary cartographic practices to ask pressing questions about privacy, authorship, economic interests, and data aggregation.
In the latest instalment of Whitney Museum’s “Sunrise/Sunset” series of website interventions, LaTurbo Avedon’s Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror takes over whitney.org for 30 seconds twice a day. Avedon, who only works as a digital avatar, created fourteen videos depicting digital flythroughs of a 3D apartment within the frame of a virtual mirror overlay. “The mirror functions as both a surface for reflection and a window into a different world,” writes the artist, “showing nature flourishing across living rooms as well as green screens and stage lights consuming the home studio.”
It’s refreshing to read commentary outside the “this will catch on/fizzle out” VR binary, or that dotes on headset sales figures, so this survey by Filippo Lorenzin is appreciated. For Hyperallergic, the Italian curator provides a very Italian reading of the pre-history of the medium: relative to linear perspective. Bypassing William Gibson and more or less igoring Palmer Luckey, Lorenzin goes way back—Brunelleschi 15th century back—connecting VR to “a point of no return for Western art” and later 360-degree paintings in considering the production and consumption of 3D space.
Rebecca Morgan Frank
Oh You Robot Saints!
With the help of an ultra-precise X-ray microscope, a German-Polish research team successfully recorded the world’s first video of a space-time crystal. An enigmatic state of matter confirmed to exist only recently, this micrometer-sized specimen was created using magnon quasiparticles at room temperature—another first. The video reveals the atomic oscillations known as ‘ticking’ associated with time crystals as their structures repeat in space and time. “We were able to show that such crystals are much more robust and widespread than first thought,” states Pawel Gruszecki of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. “The potential for communication, radar, or imaging technology is huge,” adds Joachim Gräfe of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany.