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Open Call:
Diversity, Culture, Virtual Reality

Katharina Haverich (Performance and media artist)
Lucas Kuster (Design researcher and experimental artist)

Extended to 14.08
Abstract / Preliminary project information
(max. 1,500 characters)

Decision on contributions

Submission of contribution consisting of
  • Total contribution (max. 15,000 characters for text)
  • Short bio (max. 400 characters)

Form of publication
Mixed-media anthology (Free PDF and printed edition for a fee)

Form of submission
Open (various text genres, various visual contributions, various VR contributions, project documentation ...)

Open Call
The Metaverse is on everyone's lips and generates both defensive attitudes and utopian hopes. On the negative side, it may be the rejection of the idea of one Metaverse: worries about monopolies, surveillance, manipulation and profit-oriented monetisation, the withering away of real-life qualities, the Metaverse as a dangerous reproduction-innovation of isms such as racism or ableism, all the way to dystopian scenarios of completely delimited realities. On the other hand, new forms of transcultural communities in virtual environments can be imagined with hope: the emergence of safe(er) spaces for discriminated groups of people, new possibilities for shaping life and work or favouring participation and accessibility in social and cultural exchange.

The Open Call is intended as a critical examination of Virtual Reality (VR) and its current and future application potentials and pitfalls. Special attention is given to the exploration of social potentials of virtuality: for example, the use of VR with regard to diversity in social processes, e.g. culture production. But the fundamental exclusion of people through the high-tech environments and the high-priced hardware will also be critically considered. The project is intended as a tentative step towards diverse and inclusive Social Virtual Realities.

We are looking for concrete examples of successes, processes, missteps, critical confrontations and failed projects in the field of tension between virtuality, diversity and (re)design ambitions of the virtual construction site Metaverse. Who is (not) designing the Metaverse for whom?

Contributions can be oriented towards the following questions or go beyond them:
  • Which real-life challenges, discriminations and isms are productively processed in VR - or even mastered - and which are reproduced?
  • How can both software and hardware be creatively used, hacked, rebuilt to meet project-specific requirements? What are the criteria for "virtual accessibility" in terms of text, alt-text, audio, video, interfaces, hardware ...?
  • What are new forms of accessibility, needs orientation and communication possibilities between designers and users in VR?
  • Which learning effects from the design of barrier-free virtual situations can be transferred to analogue spaces?

Submissions by e-mail or wetransfer to mail@katharinahaverich.de or contact@lucaskuster.com

Selection of submissions
When appointing the selection committee, the inclusion of different perspectives is sought. The selection criteria of submissions are both the thematic fit with the call for papers and the inclusion of diverse perspectives on the topic area. A total of 8-12 contributions will be selected.

After acceptance of an abstract, as well as submission of the full contribution, contributors are invited to charge an expense allowance. Contributions will be compensated with 50.00 € to 250.00 € (net). The amount is at the discretion of the submitter and does not affect the acceptance received in any way.

The reason and motivation for the Open Call is the project Brecht Into The Metaverse by Katharina Haverich. The project is being carried out in an artistic-research working group in collaboration with the cultural production company Ymusic GmbH and funding from the Fonds Darstellende Künste and the Berlin Senate. Within this project, the current state of the Metaverse is negotiated in the metaphor of a construction site that needs to be (co-)designed bottom-up. The virtual production and performance of Bertolt Brecht's play Die Gewehre der Frau Carrar (Señora Carrar's Rifles), which is currently being developed, serves as a vehicle for testing virtual, low-barrier forms of collaboration and cultural production in the Metaverse with a diverse cast and experimenting with the possibilities and limits of the virtual reality application VRChat. While insights, missteps and ambiguities gained from this form part of the publication, it goes beyond this and invites further submissions.

Further information
We aim to work in a low-barrier way, to communicate in a diversity-sensitive and welcoming way, to reflect on our own assumptions and to focus on collaborations with people from different perspectives. We want to offer and practice the design of inclusive work. Nevertheless, we have biases and omissions in perspective. This should be understood as a transparent indication that we would like to deal with criticism on the approach and orientation of the project in a productive and open-minded way and are grateful for corresponding questions and hints.

Supported by
Senat Berlin & Fonds Darstellende Künste