Thoughts & Insights

OUBEYs Art in Digital Spaces of Experience

After a five year break, the MINDKISS Project is now moving on to the next stage. From 28 October to 8 November OUBEYs Art in the Digital Resonance Space will be premiered in Germany. In September this year the presentation already wowed visitors to the Science&Fiction/Science&Art festival in Moscow. So just more trendy surfing on the zeitgeist wave? Far from it.

It’s true that recently a growing number of artists have been exploring the possibilities offered by digitalisation. Their outcomes, however, frequently depend on overwhelming overpowering effects. They use artificial intelligence to process huge amounts of data into immersive scenarios that are projected on vast walls in great rooms that overwhelm and amaze the visitor’s senses. All this is fine and very important because it opens a new gateway to experiencing art over and beyond the traditional way museums present it.

Yet the digital experience space created by the next phase of the MINDKISS Project is light years away from such a hunger for the big and spectacular. What it rather does is to build a bridge connecting OUBEYs original art from the analogue world of the early 80s with the digital world of our modern times. This opens up the possibility of discovering facets and aspects of his paintings that many people who had seen them might have already suspected or associated with them only which can now be actually visualised in a way not possible before. In virtual reality and with the aid of artificial intelligence optical effects can be staged that the human eye had previously seen only in dreams or under the effect of drugs. Given such alluring perspectives, there’s a huge temptation to turn what is technically feasible into the measure of all things.

Yet first and foremost the MINDKISS Project is not concerned with showcasing all the great things technology can do but rather with engaging with the technological possibilities to show what OUBEYs art can do. The project holds true to a statement OUBEY himself made in 1992 in response to a question about the role played by the computer in his art – a statement that clearly restricts its role; “I always start with an idea and am obsessed with realising this idea – the medium I use plays a subordinate role. If the process calls for it, I look for the proper medium whatever that might be until my idea can be materialised. I only stop when I get the feeling that the picture has become part of me.”

This was exactly the trail I followed together with my partners from Kubikfoto when I began to sound out the new openings of technology to see if they were capable of leading to experiences of OUBEYs art that had the potential of becoming part of the viewer.  OUBEY scorned superficial effects in his work. His art is free of any outside expectations and influences. It’s the expression of a view into the deepest depths and the uttermost limits of the cosmos, from which we come, in which we live, and to which we’ll return at some point.  This is why his paintings can move and fascinate Maori people in New Zealand just as they move and fascinate young people in Uganda, astronomers and complexity researchers, and schoolchildren, and sometimes even company managers.

And this is also why the MINDKISS Project, in its present use of cutting-edge technological opportunities, is not interested in mere sensationalism. We’re simply realising what I myself have been dreaming about for many years, and what some people met with on the Encounter tour have often yearned for when they stood in front of one of OUBEYs original paintings – to be in the middle of the picture, to vanish into it This kind of becoming as one with the painting is only possible in the virtual world. And that is simply fantastic in the literal sense of the word.

What’s now become possible is a thrilling journey into the depths of the painting. You can get an inkling of what this is like from the short videos Samurai, Journey of the Monads, and Cosmic Voyage. If you have the right VR headset, you can also download this virtual adventure world free of charge. We’ll be showcasing other parts of the present show in another article that will appear after the exhibition at the Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig. By then we’ll have collected the resonance to the Digital Playground of a great many more people and have assessed its effects. True to the spirit of the whole The Art of Resonance presentation.