Symposium II on Virtual Reality - Breaking Glass
Symposium in Frankfurt to Launch the book - 2021

Breaking Glass III: Virtual Space
Online symposium on virtual and augmented reality in art and architecture
May 28–30, 2021, 5pm

With Refik Anadol, Johan Bettum, Daniel Birnbaum, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Diller, Vittorio Gallese, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Yuk Hui, iheartblob, Peter Jäger, Sanford Kwinter, Michelle Kuo, Lundahl & Seitl, Thomas Metzinger, Yasmil Raymond, Rachel Rossin, Tomás Saraceno, Wolf Singer, Space Popular, Ben Vickers, as well as students and alumni of the Städelschule.

Breaking Glass III: Virtual Space is a three-day symposium organized by Städelschule and moderated by professors Johan Bettum and Daniel Birnbaum. This virtual event focuses on the role of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in architecture and art, and brings together speakers from various disciplines, including architecture, art, philosophy and neuroscience, who present their ideas, theories and work in the field of AR and VR. Critical practitioners and theorists from 13 different cities are invited: Basel, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Mainz, New York, Paris, Parma, Seoul, Stockholm, and Vienna.

Breaking Glass

In 2018, the Städelschule launched Breaking Glass, a three-part multidisciplinary symposium intended to present groundbreaking projects by artists and architects engaging with advanced new technologies. Breaking Glass I (Städelschule, 2018) tackled the technologically driven processes of subjectification that produce us as individuals and collectives. With Breaking Glass II (Mousonturm, 2019), the central role of the virtual image for AR and VR was addressed. Breaking Glass III concludes by thematically engaging with the immersive and interactive qualities of the space that is engendered. Within a relatively short time, AR and VR have emerged center stage in architecture and art as novel means for exploring how their creative output is produced, mediated, and experienced. With AR and VR the experiencing subject is situated in a potentially interactive relation to a partly or fully simulated environment. Feeding the continuous experiential spectrum between the “fully real” and the “fully virtual,” the underlying technology of these media presents machine-generated sensorial input where to date the ocular dominates. With these inputs, corporeal experience sees the “virtual” thrown on the scale with the “real” while the concepts and models in neuroscience for how we understand perceptional dynamics are shifting.

The questions pertaining to virtual space include how it accommodates and affects the human subject, and thus how our sense of reality is constructed within it. AR and VR bring the pictorial and the spatial together insofar as both are based on virtual, computer-generated imagery. AR merges this virtual image with an image of the real setting, whereas in VR the virtual imagery is the main element in the saturated, closed, and immersive environment.

The symposium is accompanied by the publication SAC Journal 6: Breaking Glass: Spatial Fabulations & Other Tales of Representation in Virtual Reality (Spurbuchverlag, 2021), available here.

The lectures and talks will be held in English.


Friday, May 28, 2021
All times are in Central European Summer Time.

5:00–5:30pm, Welcome and Introduction
Yasmil Raymond, Frankfurt
Johan Bettum, Frankfurt and Daniel Birnbaum, London

5:30–8:00pm, Panel 1 – Art in the New Era: The Virtual Turn
Michelle Kuo, New York
Rachel Rossin, New York
Tomás Saraceno, Berlin with Peter Jäger, Mainz and Yasmil Raymond, Frankfurt
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Paris

8:00–9:30 pm, Panel 2 – Experiencing the Self: Space and the Virtual
Wolf Singer, Frankfurt
Lundahl & Seitl, Stockholm
Yuk Hui, Hong Kong

Saturday, May 29, 2021

12:00–12:15pm, Introduction
Johan Bettum, Frankfurt and Daniel Birnbaum, London

12:15–2:30pm, Panel 3 – Art and Architecture in Virtual Space
Space Popular, London
Vittorio Gallese, Parma
Ben Vickers, London

2:30–6:00pm, Panel 4 – Making Worlds Today
Elizabeth Diller, New York
Thomas Metzinger, Mainz
Sanford Kwinter, New York

6:30–8:00pm, Panel 5 – Staging the Future
Simon Denny, Berlin
iheartblob, Vienna
Refik Anadol, Los Angeles

Sunday, May 30, 2021

6:00–6:15pm, Introduction
Johan Bettum, Frankfurt and Daniel Birnbaum, London

6:15–9:00pm, Panel 6 – Projects and contexts by students and alumni of Städelschule
David Bachmann and Ben Livne-Weitzman (WAVA), Frankfurt; Yara Feghali, Los Angeles: Ainsley Johnston, Basel; Yeon Joo Oh and Haewook Jeong, Seoul

Breaking Glass III – Virtual Space is generously supported by Aventis Foundation with additional support by the Dr. Marschner Stiftung, Frankfurt. Additional support is provided by Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst.

Yara Feghali / 2024