Marina Abramović, a well-known Serbian performance artist, who is highly experimental with her work and combining her performance with the audience participation, exhibited “The Life” in 2019. The show took place in Serpentine Gallery, and mixed reality is used as a medium for the first time. It tackled the question of conveying the presence of an individual to another location which is in many people’s minds nowadays, but what does mixed reality mean and how Abramović made use of it?
Mixed reality simply refers to blending the virtual reality and the real world. It is different from the AR (Augmented Reality) which is the concept you might be familiar with from Snapchat, and Instagram’s story features: AR puts the computer-generated objects on top of the real world and includes limited interactions with the reality. On the other hand, MR (Mixed Reality) does not locate the virtual object in the real world as the virtual object becomes part of our reality. This process of visualisation can either be done by adding the content to the real world or placing the real world items on virtual reality.
The Life described as “the world’s first Mixed Reality performance artwork”, and the tickets sold out immediately even though it took only 19 minutes. It took part in a minimally decorated room, and all the participants needed to follow a procedure before coming into the exhibition area: they put all the devices that connected them to the real world (phones, laptops, ipads etc.) into the lockers and came into the zone without anything. Then, visitors wear special glasses and watch the performance of Marina Abramović without her being in the room. They see the digital version of the 72 years old artist that is created for The Life, which made the artist immortal for real.
It is exciting to see how far today’s world’s limits are and how technological improvements can be beneficial for the art world, not only for the health industry or the economy. Furthermore, I believe that we will see the use of technology in the art industry more because of the current pandemic (one of the few impacts that I am grateful for). Marina Abramović was always experimental with technology and digitalisation, but she was only one of the few. Now more artists and art galleries are playing around with the concepts of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.