Talks on Immersion

Virtual Reality: Human dream with side effects

Half virtual reality, half real virtuality – that’s how visitors saw the future of VR media during the Talks on Immersion. Old masters Prof. Dr. Bazon Brock, Dr. Stephan Streubner and Dr. Tobias Holischka provided new impulses.

Prof. Anja Stöffler & Stefanie Böttcher (Director Kunsthalle Mainz)

Will virtual reality become our new reality? Or just a new reality? Is it perhaps a hype that passes quickly? Does it even exist? Or should it not rather be called Real Virtuality after Bazon Brock? We are still at the beginning of the fusion of real and virtual worlds.

In the “Talks on Immersion”, the University of Applied Sciences Mainz and the Mainzer Kunsthalle explored the subject in a symposium and discussed with three scientists. They questioned what is still real and what virtual environments can be used for.

Finally, the discussions were turned upside down by the old master Bazon Brock, who searched for the contradictions in the new virtual cosmos and at the same time identified virtual reality itself as a contradiction in itself and instead demanded real virtuality. The “Talks on Immersion” were the first joint symposium of media designers at the University of Applied Sciences Mainz Prof. Anja Stöffler in cooperation with the Mainz Kunsthalle and its director Stefanie Böttcher, who both see their work at the intersection of philosophy, media and art worlds.

“A bank account is nothing more than virtual reality.”

Dr. Tobias Holischka


Prof. Dr. Bazon Brock

An entire generation has been seduced by e-gurus to speak and use sign worlds as virtual realities. But a reality is not a reality when it is virtual. Simple conceptual work would allow the correction that the aforementioned sign-making processes are realized virtuality, i.e. materially represented thoughts, ideas, concepts and similar inner-psychic operations.
By nature we are compelled to objectify, in technical terms this means that we are dependent on embodiment, i.e. embodiment of spiritual, mental, emotional and other intrapsychic forces, since these forces only prove to be given if they prove to be perceptible elements, as entities of our world.
With a little attention to the terms, we then understand that it is a matter of realized virtuality, i.e. realized virtuality instead of virtual realities, in order to resist to the best of our ability the hexing of the mind by the sign-making fuss.

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Short biography: Prof. Dr. Bazon Brock, thinker in service and artist without work, is professor emeritus at the chair for aesthetics and cultural mediation at the Bergische University of Wuppertal. Further professorships at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (1965-1976) and the University of Applied Arts, Vienna (1977-1980). In 1992 he received an honorary doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich and in 2012 an honorary doctorate from the Karlsruhe University of Art and Design. He represents the “Institute for Theoretical Art, Universal Poetry and Prognostics”, and is the founder of the Thinking / Office for Work on Unsolvable Problems and Measures of the High Hand.

Dr. Tobias Holischka

Virtual reality takes our understanding of reality to its limits. It confronts us with fundamental questions that reach deep into philosophy. As fantastic as VR may be – in order to understand its opportunities and risks, we must first deal with its foundations.

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Short biography: Dr. Tobias Holischka has been working as a research assistant at the chair of philosophy at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt since 2009. His research focuses on the relationship between reality and virtuality, the philosophy of technology and the phenomenology of place. In 2016 his dissertation was published under the title “CyberPlaces. Philosophical Approaches to the Virtual Place” was published.

Dr. Stephan Streuber

Virtual reality, or VR, has become a synonym for a new type of technology that allows the user to dive into a computer-controlled fantasy world and experience it directly on his own body. Since our brain processes sensory signals regardless of whether they come from the real environment or are generated by the computer, the boundaries between reality and virtuality become blurred. The authenticity of the experience generated by VR holds risks and opportunities that are still largely unexplored. The lecture focuses mainly on the potentials of VR with regard to the exploration of human behaviour.

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Short biography: Jun. Prof. Dr. Streuber received his doctorate in neuro- and behavioural sciences at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. He has been junior professor at the University of Constance since 2018, where he heads the “Virtual Reality for the Study of Collective Behaviour” research group.

Management and moderation: Stefanie Böttcher, Prof. Anja Stöffler
Mitarbeit: Laura Günter, Manfred Liedtke
Bilder: Martina Pipprich