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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathImmersion

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impossible to perceive it as an autonomous aesthetic object. If media competence results from the capability, or learned ability, to objectify a given medium, then this ability is undermined by virtual installations. The designers of this medium utilize all means at their disposal to banish this from the consciousness of the recipients. At best, the medium of virtual reality—as indeed all immersive image techniques—can only be objectified through knowledge and awareness of the image production processes and an understanding of their technical, physiological and psychological mechanisms, for in them everything is an image. As the interfaces seem to disappear, as their design becomes more natural, the illusionary symbiosis of observer and work progresses and psychological detachment increasingly vanishes. Inside the immediate existence of ‹omnipresent› virtuality there will be lasting effects on any mechanism of knowledge acquisition. Thus, in certain seemingly ‹living› virtual environments a fragile, central element of art comes under threat: the recipient's act of distancing, which is essential for enabling any critical reflection.[29]


Virtual spaces of knowledge: Knowbotic Research/Hegedüs/Fleischmann

There are, however, remarkable attempts by artists to use immersive strategies to oppose the apparent lack of distance. In the Renaissance, neo-Platonists constructed virtual temples of memory, memory theaters, spaces of thought, and storage spaces of knowledge for the collected wisdom of their time, where many and various—theoretically infinite— associations between objects and memory locations could be combined and thought. Mental, imaginary navigation through these spaces that also facilitated combinatory processes: ‹ars combinatoria› was the intellectually productive principle of these memory theaters, for example that of Giulio Camillo, circa 1550.[30] The Hungarian artist Agnes Hegedüs, who worked at the Zentrum für Kunst- und Medientechnologien (Center for Art and Media Technology—ZKM) in Karlsruhe for many years, has revived this historic concept of the memory theater, as Bill Viola had done a few years before.[31] Importantly, the difference is that Hegedüs offers the visitors to her virtual spaces a dynamic structure with intermedia

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