Photo: Robert Bauernhansl

In early September—just in time for the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival—we opened a new VRLab in our main exhibition, New Views of Humankind.

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, total immersion in virtual worlds and superimposing data onto our reality—for several years now, everybody’s been talking up these concepts and ideas once again.

The enthusiasm that accompanied the dawn of this new high-tech age in the 1980s and ’90s is back, whereby the technology deployed in today’s data glasses (head-mounted displays) seems to finally be able to live up to the visions that preceded it. VR, AR and MR have become a playground of multifarious pursuits: the gaming sector and film industry, applications in the educational field and tourism market, works of art and architecture, the creative economy, performance and the theater.

The VRLab in the Ars Electronica Center’s Main Gallery showcases the latest VR, AR and MR technologies. In addition to applications by filmmakers and animators as well as artistic approaches, the VRLab relates the history of virtual and augmented reality’s development. What did 18th-century spatial illusions look like, how did we progress from the stereoscope to the Oculus Rift, and in which directions will VR and AR be advancing in days to come? The VRLab provides insights into these questions.



Mixed Reality with Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens is a mixed reality headset that blends the digital world into the real one. Digital contents appear like holograms amidst a real-world setting.

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Virtual Reality with Vive and Oculus Rift

Vive, one of the first commercially available Virtual Reality systems, has made quite a name for itself among a variety of solutions that have recently hit the market. It enables users to experience games and other digital content as if you were right inside them. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that was developed by Oculus VR and has been on the market since early 2016. Just like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift totally immerses the wearer in virtual worlds.

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HYPER-REALITY is a concept film, presenting a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media.



This installation invites visitors to physically experience the login process, which normally isn’t visible. The transition from physical to digital states is manifested by an experience in which the perception of one’s body melds with its representation in the form of data.

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Project INEO

INEO is a virtual reality experience designed especially with the interests and needs of non-tech-savvy seniors in mind. The whole experience—beginning with the choice of scenery—was developed in cooperation with members of the Pensioners Club of the City of Vienna.

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Training 2038

In contrast to the perceived obfuscation in much of the computational protocols today, Training 2038 stages a scenario where people are given a voice to provide feedback on systems that are just taking shape.

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Fight is an artwork that lets viewers behold a virtual world in which each of their two eyes is presented with a different image. This results in a phenomenon known as binocular rivalry.

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Journey into the Human Body: The Heart

The gaming & entertainment industries aren’t the only fields utilizing virtual reality applications; conveying information is another area with huge potential. For instance, a new project entitled “Journey into the Human Body: The Heart” provides innovative teaching material for elementary school pupils.

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