Rebecca Merlic

Rebecca Merlic (1989) is a European digital artist and architect, experimental filmmaker, and university assistant in the core team of Experimental Game Cultures at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Her work is strongly influenced by alternative societies and transgressions of socioeconomic conventions as well as by new forms of artistic and architectural production employing new technologies. Merlic won the Marianne.von.Willemer Prize for Digital Media in 2020 and is currently working on DigitalHumanism x FutureLiving in collaboration with the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tokyo as well as on her new video game GLITCHBODIES.

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Description of the residency

TULPENMANIA is a prototype game experience about digital identities that continue to exist in a future after the point of no return. The work uses real-time body data of the artist Rebecca Merlic.

‘The ship Nieuw Hoorn 3.0 was built 165 years after Kisho Kurokawa’s famous Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza was destroyed to make space for new urban developments; it carries more than 24.000 capsules and is 400m long with a 17m draught.’

The game TULPENMANIA takes place in a near future where land is flooded, and humans have fled or are in hiding, because climate change has made living unbearable in most parts of the world for human bodies.

The player wanders through a flooded landscape with arches and windmills covered with new plants and pandemic tulips. The plants and tulips show past and future data of hidden bodies. The flooding, fog and rain in the experience are connected to a body data collection ring worn in real life by the artist Rebecca Merlic who influences the scene in real-time by creating these floods, rain, and digital fog.

The tulips, feathered and flamed by benign viruses, are relics of a past time; they were once planted by humans. Thanks to data servers which function autonomously using solar and wind technology, they have adapted to the new weather and living conditions, and are still alive and breathing. The digital skins change colour depending on the heart frequencies, temperature and sleeping data sent by another data device connected to a second real-life body.TULPENMANIA is influenced by Byung-Chul Han book Infokratie, Digitalisierung und die Krise der Demokratie (2021) about the neoliberal information regime and the exploitation of humans by data. Bodies produced and performed themselves, but digital identities continue to live on, even after the point for no return for humanity.

Possible link to showcases / exhibitions of the project at events

The project was presented in October 2023 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (CO), at the exhibition “Realities in Transition XR Camp – Extended Worlds”.

6th March to 5th May 2023
This project was co-produced by Rebecca Merlic and V2_Lab for the Unstable Media as part of the Realities In Transition residencies, 2023.

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