Each year, as the temperature drops and the days grow shorter, gloves become increasingly important. Even on my five-minute bike ride to work my knuckles freeze, dry, and crack without the pair I picked up at a flea market in Amsterdam last year (soft suede and obnoxiously leopard print because I can never pass up an opportunity to be as extra as humanly possible). Gloves are functional, beautiful, and provide another layer of the self. They wrap around the human shape but are not constrained by it; I may not be a leopard but with my gloves, my hands are.
If the frigid Berlin weather doesn’t offer enough glove appreciation for you, there is another remedy. NEW DAWN | Tools to Touch in Times Ahead, a virtual-reality gallery experience uses the glove as its focal point. The multi-media display features 33 artists who explore the glove through photography, CGI, animation, graphic design, dance, performance, sound design, and curatorial practices as a “device for enabling holistic experiences in a discursive, material, and visual speculative future.” And to experience it you don’t have to leave the comfort of your screen.
The exhibition is set in a potential future reality in the year 2070 in which artificial intelligence has allowed humans to transcend current notions of aesthetics, science, and technology. NEW DAWN imagines a future where the organic and synthetic meet to reconstruct our understanding of not only human surroundings, but the human body. The virtual gallery focuses on the glove and its ability to foster performativity and imagination due to its position as an “alien skin.”
The gallery is best viewed with VR glasses but can easily be enjoyed on a computer or smartphone by using the W, A, S and D keys to navigate. Upon entering, the viewer steps into a crisp, light hall that opens into a domed room, all starkly white with ambient sounds. Although the gallery itself looks like it could be inside a spaceship, the back wall features a window with a digitally rendered sea, grounding the viewer in an earth-bound reality.
The gloves themselves mimic this combination of an organic and synthetic virtual reality. NEW DAWN features gloves that look like human skin, gloves that could be made of car parts, gloves that might be woven out of carbon and gloves that look like gloves. Some pieces are static while other fluctuate as the sound design crescendos and fades when the viewer concentrates on them.
Although the center room of the virtual gallery may look like a conventional space to display art, two side rooms challenge notions of traditional curation. Try wandering to the left and right to dive into an immersive yet virtual gallery experience.
Initiator Tobias Faisst also creative directed a performative video piece for the exhibition that can be found in one of the side rooms. This video features choreography by Franka Marlene Foth and dancers Camille Jackson, Yi Wei Tien, Christopher Saint Laurent and Lie Ning, who performed at iHeartBerlin’s Checkout Sessions event with Soundboks back in September. Video direction and production was done by acte TM.
NEW DAWN challenges the definition of a gallery and provides a glimpse of the future of art curation in our increasingly digitized world: a hybrid of manufactured, anthropomorphic and natural elements.