NO LIMITS, PETER WEIBEL : From virtual to augmented reality


from 9 until 31 May 2011

apollonia venue, Strasbourg

Artist: Peter Weibel

Programming: Jens Barth

Peter Weibel questions the role of media in the apprehention of reality, of history and of knowledge:

Life in the 20th century. 250 million murders
An augmented reality installation, 2011

Mobile devices like iPhone or iPad (provided at the exhibition) are used as photographic apparatus. The viewer or user wanders through the real space, looking through his iPhone or iPad into the real space. What he sees on the screen of the iPhone or iPad is the real space but in addition to that, he sees a globe floating in the air. When he turns around 360 degrees in the real space, he discovers ten globes in the air. From each globe comes a text. On top of each globe is a date. The ten globes symbolize the ten decades of the 20th century. The number of a year appears on top of the globe as well as for each year the number of political murders by genocides, wars, etc. are visible. From each globe drops regularly a drop of blood. A voice is added to the figures and enunciates the names of the genocides, wars, etc.

What you see is the real environment but with the help of the mobile devices you see more. The reality is augmented (with virtual globes, text and numbers). In an augmented reality environment, the user is immersively surrounded by a virtual world. The user looks into a virtual world overlaying the exhibition space, just like looking through a window. By turning and moving around, the visitor focuses on distinct incidents which are virtually presented on ten globes scattered in space.

The viewer, wandering around in real space, may wonder why he sees and hears a chronology of genocides and wars happening so close to him, not being distant, happening in his own space. The answer could be that he is part of the system that he observes, that he is part of the system where he lives in, that the system he is part of is also part of genocides and wars. Maybe he wonders why natural catastrophes have only destroyed an extremely small number of people whereas man-made catastrophes have destroyed the lives of millions.

In what kind of social system do we live in that kills each year 2 million five hundred thousand people?

Idea Peter Weibel
Programming Jens Barth

The wall, the curtain (border, the) or Lascaux
A virtual reality installation, 1994-2011


A wall of books is projected. When a viewer enters the space, a video camera tracks his motion. The analog signals of his motion are transformed by the computer to digital chains of signs. This digital sequence of signals influences the image of the wall which is also stored as digital sequence of signals. Therefore the motion of the spectator in front of the wall (or in front of the projection) influences the motion of the wall. By a special programming the real spectator in front of the wall turns into a virtual spectator within the wall. When the real spectator moves his arms towards the wall, the virtual spectator moves his arms out of the wall, creating the image of a prisoner who wants to break through the wall. The viewer is part of the image he views. He is inside the image and outside the image. As a real observer, he is out of the image but at the same time he is inside of the image as a virtual observer, simulating an external observer, who presses against the wall from the back. Our real world is in fact a prison of space and time. The four coordinates x y z (of space) and t (of time) are the prison bars. Technology can soften or extend the prison bars of space and time. This idea to demonstrate is the reason of this piece.

Opening on Saturday 7 May at 7 p.m. in the presence of Peter Weibel