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"Theatrum Radix" is a transdisciplinary virtual reality project by artist Marlene Bart (Bauhaus University Weimar) in collaboration with Ikonospace founder Joris Demnard and 3D artist Manuel Farre. Through surreal stories about nature, in combination with CT scans of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, a modern architecture of knowledge is designed.

The project ties in with a theme that has fascinated people since antiquity. The order of things and beings. The design is based on the artistic research of Marlene Bart, on encyclopaedic metaphors of the world.

"Theatrum Radix" stimulates a surreal dialogue on the role of objects in scientific and artistic discourse by considering both their historical connection and contemporary perspectives on encyclopaedic knowledge architectures and the presentation of natural and artistic artefacts.

Metaphors have defined our knowledge and museum culture and the relationship between humans and nature from the beginning of the modern era. World events were presented in the form of a book, a theatre or a mirror (micro-in-macrocosm) to explain the processes of nature and the cosmos. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin used the tree metaphor to convey his theory of evolution, and in the 21st century many disciplines refer to the network or rhizome metaphor. The VR project draws on these metaphors of knowledge.

An other important point of reference is the design of a memorial theatre and a book about it by the Italian philosopher Giulio Camillo. Camlillo designed a theater based on the seven known planets of his time. Like Camillo's theater, "Theatrum Radix" has seven chapters in which viewers are able to immerse themselves.

The link between the metaphor of the theatre and that of the book is central, as encyclopaedias were originally called "Theatrum naturae", "Theatrum animalium" or "Theatrum botanicum".

The unique properties of VR technology and the historical context of the project create a dynamic new system.

 

Credits:

  • Directed by | screenplay by Marlene Bart

  • Produced as a cooperation of Marlene Bart, Ikonospace founder Joris Demanrd and 3D Artist Manuel Farre

  • Music by Daniel Benjamin

"Theatrum Radix" was presented in connection with a site-specific installation with holographic screen prints in the historic washboat, Bateau Lavoir Saint-Julien in Laval (RectoVrso Festival, Laval Virtual, 2022).