Matter, Non-Matter, Anti-Matter. Past Exhibitions as Digital Experiences

November 11, 2021 – January 16, 2022, Tallinn Art Hall


Digitality skews the linearity of time when a computer-generated simulation brings a past environment back to life.

If past exhibitions, that are spatial manifestations of thought processes, are resurrected digitally, history turns into a virtual experience. Chronologies could be reversed, reconstructed, and built anew in a computer-generated space. Meanwhile ephemera become withheld in time due to their digital conservation.

Two art institutions, ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and Centre Pompidou, Paris have committed themselves, within the framework of the project Beyond Matter. Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality, to examining the possibility of exhibition revival through experiential methods of digital and spatial modelling based on the case studies of Les Immatériaux (Centre Pompidou, 1985), and Iconoclash (ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2002). The chosen exhibitions are landmark shows of the past decades. Les Immatériaux and Iconoclash are both complex thought experiments deployed through space. With the aim of exploring the impact of computer-based information and the shaping of digital realities in all fields of knowledge, they experimented with innovative forms of juxtapositions between scientific, technological, and artistic practices. What’s more is that they propelled the possibility of the exhibition as a medium and an interface to a sharp level of reflection and creativity.

© Paul Kuimet, Tallinn Art Hall, Immaterial Display

The digital model is a novel approach to the exploration of exhibition histories, as well as to the themes, curatorial methods, and engagement with representation and mediation these exhibitions brought about. It is not our aim to create “digital twins”, in other words virtual copies of past assemblages of artifacts and the surrounding architecture. Instead, the digital transposition or 3D documentation of the exhibitions in an experiential manner, in line with their curatorial concept, was set as a goal.

The publication of the exhibition models may have a substantial effect on the future reception of the chosen shows, therefore their production is based on the collaboration with technological UI/UX design experts, as well as the involvement of the curators and the artists who participated in their realization in as much as it is possible.

© Paul Kuimet, Tallinn Art Hall, Immaterial Display

Presented on the so-called Immaterial Display, the exhibition models can be explored in an interactive way. Visitors can navigate through the computer-based exhibition spaces displayed on a screen via a hand-held controller and a chair, which reacts to their movements. The metadata of the visits is anonymously recorded and collected in a dataset, which will serve as a basis for the evaluation of the experience and for machine learning algorithms through which new approaches to digital exhibition visits shall be generated. The digital exhibition models in their current forms are prototypes and are gradually being developed further, taking the feedback of its visitors into consideration.

Further locations and dates


Mar 14, 2022 – Mar 29, 2022

Apr 20, 2022 – Apr 25, 2022

Apr 25, 2022 – May 5, 2022

May 17, 2022 – May 22, 2022

June 25 – August 28 2022

Dec 2, 2022 – Apr 23, 2023

Summer 2023



Väre, Aalto University, Espoo

Kuutio / Oodi Central Library

Väre, Aalto University, Espoo

Design Museum Helsinki

Tirana Art Lab, Albanien


Centre Pompidou, Paris