BEYOND MATTER is an international, collaborative, practice-based research project that takes cultural heritage and culture in development to the verge of virtual reality. It does this by reflecting on the virtual condition with a specific emphasis on its spatial aspects in art production, curating, and mediation via numerous activities and formats, including the digital revival of selected past landmark exhibitions, art and archival exhibitions, conferences, artist residency programs, an online platform, and publications, from 2019 to 2023.
One of the goals of the project is to develop novel solutions for the accessible digital documentation and networked presentation of exhibitions that currently exist, or previously existed, in physical space – including their artworks, artifacts, and educational materials. In future, these methods of virtualizing exhibitions could be used by museums and galleries to document and revive their exhibitions in new ways. With our experiential, research-based methodology we will provide a basis for developing museological and technological aspects simultaneously.
Exhibition spaces are physical locations of knowledge production and exchange, where spatial qualities play an important role in the contextualization of information. Virtual productions, emulations, and revivals should therefore maintain these qualities, but also be able to include digitized and born-digital content, whether these are artworks, exhibits, or informational materials. This is equally relevant to the reconstruction of spaces that no longer exist.
To ensure that the methods developed remain in use in the longer term, the project aims to contribute to the capacity building of museum professionals through seminars and conferences. The results will be collected in the Virtual Museum Toolkit, and encompass practical and theoretical knowledge on the inclusion of virtual exhibitions in displaying and mediating artworks.
Partner museums and galleries will also host large and small-scale exhibitions to measure and further practice-based innovation, as well as events to disseminate the project’s results. In a framework of artist-in-residence programs, artists are invited to develop new pieces for these exhibitions, ensuring that the project resonates with the latest contemporary trends.
The project was initiated at ZKM | Karlsruhe and is managed by ZKM | Hertz-Lab and enjoys the partnership of organizations from a wide range of European countries – from almost all regions of the continent—and foresees cooperation with various other organizations that have a broad spectrum of experience in fields such as digital art conservation, digitizing tangible and intangible heritage, exhibitions of contemporary and new media art, and experimental museology.
Beyond Matter is co-funded by the European Union, the software and hardware development for the museums of the future in the framework of the project is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.