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The Artwork as a Living System - Focus on VR and AR Works

Event Label
Organisational Units
Art and Architecture
Location Description
Schillerplatz 3
1010 Vienna
Media Lab / K7

Lecture by Christa Sommerer in English as part of the seminar Female Pioneers in the History of VR by Paula Strunden.

Since 30 years Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau collaborate to create interactive art installations which combine natural and artificial environments. They have often developed their own interfaces to allow intuitive access to virtual worlds. As Karin Ohlenschläger writes: "In their works art becomes a perceptible experience in which the user explores organic and artificial nature in an intuitive way, transmitting the idea that, as people, we are both an integral part and the co-creators of living systems, whether they are natural or artificial."

In this talk we will look at several VR and AR systems that Sommerer and Mignonneau have developed since the early 1990ies, such as the The Living Web System, the Flies in the Sky Project, the Fly Simulator as well as the Ar(t)chive project. These installations use artistic methods to navigate through virtual image and data environments in VR or AR. We will also present selected other interactive installation to contextualize these works and present as short introduction to selected projects by other female pioneers of VR.

Finally we will introduce the newly published book Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau: The Artwork as a Living System 1992-2022, edited by Karin Ohlenschläger, Peter Weibel and Alfred Weidinger which was published at the MIT Press in 2023. It was published in the context of Sommerer & Mignonneau´s 30 years retrospective exhibition which was presented in 2022 at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the OK Center in Linz and is currently shown at the iMAL in Brussels, it will travel on to the Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao in 2024. More information is available at:

Christa Sommerer is an internationally renowned media artist, researcher and pioneer of interactive art. She worked at the IAMAS Academy in Gifu, Japan, the ATR Research Labs in Kyoto, Japan, the MIT CAVS in Cambridge US and the NCSA in Champaign Urbana, IL, USA. In 2004 together with Laurent Mignonneau she set up the department for Interface Cultures in Linz, Austria. Sommerer held visiting professor positions at CAFA Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, Tsukuba University and Aalborg University, Denmark. Together with Laurent Mignonneau she created around 40 interactive artworks shown in around 350 international exhibitions. They received numerous awards, including the Austrian State Art Award in the category media art. Their 30 years retrospective exhibition The Artwork as a Living System was coproduced by the ZKM Karlsruhe, the OÖLandeskultur GmbH and the iMAL in Brussels. This exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive overview of their art works in the book The Artwork as a Living System edited by Karin Ohlenschläger, Peter Weibel and Alfred Weidinger and published in 2023 at the MIT Press. More information at:

IKA Media Lab / K7 is located in the Basement, please note the IKA Media Lab has no Barrier-free access

Zoom Link can be provided upon request via

Lecture in English