HTC VIVE Arts is pleased to support special project Endodrome by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, invited artist at the main exhibition of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Endodrome, a virtual reality environment and the artist’s first VR artwork, will debut as part of “May You Live in Interesting Times,” curated by Ralph Rugoff, from 11 May to 24 November 2019. This year’s Biennale features numerous artworks made using digital technologies, demonstrating growing recognition of works made using VR, AR, AI and other digital mediums.
Endodrome is a staged environment for five people to enter at each time, combining an interactive VR experience with a theatrical setting that suggests the experience of a séance. The title of the piece, derives from the Greek words ‘endon’, meaning ‘internal’, and ‘dromos’, meaning ‘running, race track’. With Endodrome, the artist has created a VR artwork which allows viewers to journey inwards to access alternative states of consciousness.
Viewers will initially be immersed into a fluid, hypnotic monochrome environment and move through abstract visual space, as layers of bright colour fields respond to the user’s gaze and breath. The 8-minute VR artwork will allow viewers to have the chance to interact with and inhabit Gonzalez-Foerster’s mesmerising meditative visions.
With this new work, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster examines the possibilities of immersion, using virtual reality as a medium to explore notions of space. Endodrome allows the artist to bring together multiple elements of her wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary practice into a single work, layering on elements of sound, theater and interactive environments, alongside an ongoing exploration of the potential of digital technology for artistic expression.
Experimenting with VR as a medium that not only allows for an out of body experience but also as a means to convey interiority, Endodrome gives space for participants to enter a meditative realm and access a trance inspired space of consciousness. Gonzalez-Foerster’s examination of altered states is informed by her own experience of sound-induced cognitive trance with musician and author Corine Sombrun, who collaborated with her to create the captivating soundscape for this work.
Through her understanding of how viewers experience an artwork in VR, Gonzalez-Foerster has created an immersive environment that plays with both a physical and a virtual space. Spectators will glimpse into the visually rich space of Endodrome through layers of theatrical settings that incorporate sound, light, and projections of the visions that viewers experience via the VR headsets.
Endodrome’s production team includes line producer Lucid Realities and VR studio Novelab. The VR element of the artwork will be experienced on the HTC Vive Pro, offering viewers crystal clear visuals and the highest quality immersive environment.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster said:
“As opposed to thinking of VR as a tool for escape or for constructing an artificial world, it is more exciting for me to envision it as a kind of organic and mental space in which abstraction and consciousness can be questioned. Endodrome is a place to experience VR from both the inside and outside, and to discover an organic and imaginary voyage into a slightly altered state of consciousness.”
Renowned for her experimental approaches to art making, Gonzalez-Foerster is best known for conceptual installations and video projections that draw on film, literature, architecture, and art history. Her genre-defying interdisciplinary practice has also extended to photography, design and live performances. As an early adopter of multimedia and experimental technologies, this first foray into the medium of virtual reality with Endodrome is a natural extension of Gonzalez-Foerster’s practice.
The main exhibition sees each artist presenting two artworks, one at each site of the exhibition in the Arsenale and the Giardini. To accompany her newly created VR work, Endodrome, Gonzalez-Foerster also presents an immersive installation entitled Cosmorama, an otherworldly diorama of a martian landscape, co-realized with artist Joi Bittle. Among the themes of this year’s presentation by Rugoff is a meditation on the possibilities of virtual realities, alternate universes and parallel worlds.
“Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster has always been a conceptual cosmonaut in the world of art, an explorer of different species of spaces and the historical visual rhetoric associated with them. For Dominique, making an art work that uses virtual reality technology is thus a continuation of her larger artistic project, and she brings to it a deeply thoughtful and highly imaginative engagement. Her decision to use VR to create a series of spatial experiences that are inspired by trance states opens up a fascinating new territory for the medium — which, in its ability to create 360 degree visual environments, lends itself to the open field of awareness that such states embody. In addition, the artist has developed a score in collaboration with a sound artist who specialises in exploring ways to modify states of consciousness. In short, this is a project that takes VR in an exciting new direction, and suggests many possibilities for future development.”
Victoria Chang, Director of HTC Vive Arts, said:
“Supporting artists to realize their visions using the latest technology has always been at the forefront of our mission at Vive Arts. We are committed to working with leading artists who have the drive to experiment and create using digital technologies. As one of the most important international exhibitions in the world, the Art Biennale’s main exhibition this year is capturing the spirit of our time and of the art created in our time, which is increasingly becoming digitally and technologically oriented. Dominique’s brilliance as an artist is exemplified in her ability to be endlessly creative and develop celebrated works across mediums, using new technologies while remaining grounded in a shared human experience. We are delighted to be able to support the special project by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, invited artist at the Biennale Arte 2019 and her very first virtual reality work.”