Thomas Oberender

Our sustainability project »Down to Earth” took place within a larger programme series that began in 2015 and since then has been devoted to the phenomenon of immersion— a word that has no true equivalent in German and was previously very rarely used. A little of the hype around this term in this country has also been caused by us and this programme series. But also, of course, because so many changes were in the air and could be explained well by this term. For us, from the beginning the theme of immersion was associated with more than VR tools or online culture. From our point of view, immersion was defined by two things: one was the particular moment in an aesthetic experience when the medium vanishes. Because wherever something becomes immersive, we forget the entity that communicates it and are completely absorbed by the thing itself—love and horror may break down boundaries but a moving film will ensure that something gets under my skin and I laugh or cry along with the characters. A different kind of knowledge is connected with this: one that is intuitive and holistic, one that is familiar from states of intoxication and meditation. The second aspect that interested us was that, in contemporary art, an increasing number of work forms are being developed that are dispensing with frameworks and instead building worlds that we can enter. From this perspective, immersion appears to be a genre of its own that is radically changing the classic ways in which we encounter art and, with them, our institutions too. In this new genre, we have the experience of being in the middle of things, situating us inside a living interaction.