Open Mind Festival 2022 / Salzburg

ARGE Beisl © Heinz Preiss
ARGE Beisl © Heinz Preiss

16.11. – 19.11.2022

What happens to us humans when we slip into virtual bodies in a virtual metaverse? This year’s Open Mind Festival of the ARGE Kultur Salzburg is looking into this question under the motto “OPEN MIND – DIGITAL BODY”.

This is how Mark Zuckerberg would sell us the future of his Metaverse monopoly: “In the Metaverse, the virtual is no longer part of the real world. It’s the other way around: The real world is part of an infinite digital space in which money and data flow freely and unhindered for the benefit of mankind.” Only controlled by the rules of Mark Zuckerberg off course.

The quote comes from Thomas Assheuer, who was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for his work. Assheuer statement ist pointed and provocing: How this metaverse – “the next big thing” – could actually be democratically controlled “for the good of mankind” is of course ignored by Zuckerberg.

But it is not only questions of democratic control and effective protection of privacy that make the metaverse, as it is being built, so problematic.

This metaverse concept is accompanied by very fundamental philosophical, socio-political and psychological questions about being human as such:

The entire evolution of mankind is based on a view of the world gained through direct sensory experience. Each of us learned as a child to perceive the real world with its own senses, to evaluate the impressions gained and to make judgments and decisions based on these experiences. Man’s ability to judge cannot be separated from his trust in his own perception of the world.

The metaverse now cuts through this bond on which our conception of reality, our own actions in the world and our ability to judge are based. Because the “reality” of a fictional digital world, whose programming and algorithms we do not know and which we are no longer able to analyze and grasp in its underlying complexity, which can be manipulated in many ways by third parties, can no longer be verified by our own perception.

The Open Mind Festival explores the associated socio-political problems without simply capitulating to it:

Based on works by four Salzburg artists – Lisa Hinterreithner (THE SHELL), Ursula Schwarz (BRHRNG), Yvonne Schäfer (NIEMANSLAND) and Felix Ludwig ((UN)TOUCHABLE ART) – who experiment as showcases with the possibilities of digital spaces the discourse series HYBRID REALMS deals with central questions of the social future in a metaverse of whatever kind: Which hybrid forms of reality are conceivable and feasible? What about the freedoms and limits of your “own” digital body? What can one think of places and forms ofe „live“ experinces in digital space.

All events of this year’s Open Mind Festival can be experienced in both analogue and digital form. To ensure that this debate not only takes place theoretically but also in the “practical” use of a digital metaverse space, the ARGE Kultur Salzburg team has set up its own digital venue on the social VR platform “Mozilla Hubs”. This digital venue maps those new event rooms that ARGE Kultur would also like to build in the real world to expand its range of event rooms.

P.S.: Having a beer together after the events is unfortunately only possible for the visitors in the real world. Cheers.

Open Mind Festival 2022
16.11. – 19.11.2022
ARGE Kultur Salzburg