Beijing's Goethe-Institut holds XR exhibition exploring themes of identity
By Shen Li

The use of new technologies for an immersive experience has long been part of the avant-garde repertoire in theater, film, architecture, and other art forms. Technologies such as VR and AR often give us new perspectives and amplify our experiences, taking us into a world of its own. We head to the Goethe-Institut in Beijing's 798 art district to explore the theme of identity through the umbrella VR and AR, the extended reality technology.

Titled "Negotiable Matters: Identities," the exhibition features six artworks by both foreign and Chinese artists, which strive to break new ground in the exploration of the theme of identity in the digital realm.

Che Lin, who helped curate the exhibition, told CGTN that: "I think this kind of virtual connection is especially unique amid the global pandemic, because technology brings us closer, and allows us to reflect on our identities, about who we are and what we want to be."

A still from VVVR. Photo provided by Goethe-Institut China

A still from VVVR. Photo provided by Goethe-Institut China

Visitors would also be able to experience "Hanahana", an installation inspired by Eiichiro Oda's heroin Nico Robin, and the VVVR, or Visual Voice Virtual Reality, that combines virtual reality with audio effects.

There's also "Through the Wardrobe", which explores the fluidity of genders in a multi-faceted spectrum.

Rob Eagle, the artist behind "Through the Wardrobe", revealed that: "We started this project a couple of years ago, looking at how we can open up our wardrobe, our life, our identities to strangers. We looked at how we can play with clothing, and we started working with augmented reality. AR allows us to create this installation where visitors could walk in and have a more profound embodied experience, try on different clothing, and listen to the stories of these four Bristol."

A still from "Through the Wardrobe." Photo provided by Goethe-Institut China

A still from "Through the Wardrobe." Photo provided by Goethe-Institut China

The exhibition was initially scheduled for March but has been postponed due to the pandemic.

Dr. Clemens Treter, director of the Goethe-Institut China, said that they hope to explore the aesthetics behind the technology instead of just showing the latest advancements. "We also have workshops and talks around the subject. It's a double-sided experience," He added.

"Negotiable Matters: Identities" runs until Sunday. Visitors must book online in advance to enjoy the virtual tour.