Umstellung is Antoine Wagner’s first virtual reality work. The artist executed the work over the last few months when he found himself confined within the Catskill mountains in the region of Woodstock, two hours from New York City. The artwork evokes the importance of nature in the current context, as well as its extraordinary capacity for adaptation through time. In fact, “Adaptation” is the translation of the German title Umstellung.
While Umstellung makes reference to the continually changing character of nature, it also points to the artist’s creative process as he was compelled to adapt to the current context of the pandemic. “I think that it is important to talk about art in times of crisis. The idea of adaptation has interested me for a long time, but the experience of these last few months has confirmed my contemplation,” states Antoine Wagner.
For a duration of approximately twenty minutes, Umstellung immerses the spectator in an artificial “natural” environment made up of images captured using a drone and a camera, combined with sequences recorded by various artist friends. The result is a work that is both immersive and participative.
Viewed through an Oculus headset, Umstellung guides the spectator through a succession of theatrical backdrops that mingle fact and fiction. Standing on a mirrored floor, the viewer is invited to embark on a quest for identity. This introspective circuit enables each spectator to make their own way through a reconstructed version of nature.
The virtual reality work UMSTELLUNG is composed of a customized VR occulus headset and accompanying computer terminal, work-specific headphones with binaural three dimensional sound, and an aluminum chrome sculptural casing plynth.
A series of photogaphs retracing the arstist’s virtual reality process from 2017-2020 is presented alongside the virtual experience. The clash of temporalities, an underling element of the artist’s work is the experimentation with distortion. Antoine Wagner input analog negative photograph scans into a beta virtual reality software whose user interphase coding was not yet complete. Experiementing with its navigation the artist bent the photo as you would bend a note. These works were amongst the first of the artists exploration with the medium.