Review: 2020

VIRTUAL FESTIVAL HEADQUARTERS

Martina Menegon
VIENNA DESIGN WEEK/Kollektiv Fischka/Phillip Podesser
VIENNA DESIGN WEEK/Kollektiv Fischka/Stefanie Freynschlag
VIENNA DESIGN WEEK/Kollektiv Fischka/Patrizia Gapp
VIENNA DESIGN WEEK/Kollektiv Fischka/Kramar

VIENNA DESIGN WEEK 2020 opened a portal into another world!

In architecture, portals constantly offer opportunities to access new spaces and discover new things. This is the function of the Festival Headquarters of VIENNA DESIGN WEEK, whose location changes every year: They welcome the public and help them to find their way through the program. The fact that this central physical place now has a digital counterpart may well have been triggered by COVID-19, but this is far from being the only reason. The decision to create a setting that is specially designed for experiencing digital content came about much more as a result of the respective focuses of the festivals in 2018 (Virtual & Augmented Reality) and 2019 (Game Design).

Hence, together with a working group of experts and a wide range of external partners, VIENNA DESIGN WEEK created a virtual space that regards a digital presence not as an emergency solution but as an autonomous form of expression – an experiment full of immersive encounters, which visitors were able to experience on their own smartphones, computers, or VR glasses via the platform Mozilla Hubs, independent of their location. They could explore not only spaces specifically commissioned and curated by VIENNA DESIGN WEEK, but also spaces provided by partners and exhibitors. Thus, individual digital experiences were available to all those who, for a wide range of reasons, were unable to be personally present at this year’s festival. In addition to exhibitions and playful hubs, the virtual headquarters also enabled visitors to follow the festival talks live. But, as so often in our post-digital present, proximity and distance, online and offline, are not mutually exclusive but, rather, merge: On the first floor of the physical Festival Headquarters in the Amtshaus Theresienbadgasse in Meidling, an entire room was dedicated to the virtual headquarters. This room functioned as an analog portal into the virtual world – with VR glasses enabling visitors to hop directly over to the virtual headquarters, where their avatar could float around (or even fly!).

Take the virtual tour here CLICK or listen to the talk about the Virtual Festival Headquarters CLICK 

The Virtual Festival Headquarters were developed in cooperation with Wilhelm Scherübl (architect and artist), Martina Menegon (artist), and Eva Fischer and Angie Pohl (sound:frame, Area for Virtual Art).