Learning from the Virus!

True to the motto “20 2 0 2.0 – Please Install New Spatial System Now!” we deal with the impact and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, because the spread of viruses and the fight against them are particularly linked to spatial issues. Nevertheless, Raumwelten will not turn out to be a hygiene and virologists’ congress, but focus on the question of how scenographers, architects and digital artists tackle the COVID-19 challenges.

For a long time, the task of spatial communication has been to create closeness between people – narratively, emotionally, but also physically in space. Now, the topmost priority – the 11th commandment, so to speak, is: “You shall keep your distance!” This means that architects and scenographers are confronted with the absurd situation of implementing the opposite of what they have learnt, more or less, in new constructional, scenographic projects – especially in the event sector, but also regarding the question of efficient space use.
Naturally, digital media play a crucially important role in the prompt “Please Install New Spatial System Now!” and they have been playing this role at Raumwelten from its very beginning, with interactive installations, VR experiences and online-based spatial concepts. The process of digitalisation has been accelerated considerably by the coronavirus and exposed the digital deficits that exist in Germany in particular. However, Raumwelten is not about betting everything on the digital card which is certainly associated with “risks and side effects” that need to be discussed. Rather, it is a matter of working out the core task of Raumwelten – the connection between and interrelationship of analogue and digital, real and virtual, onsite and online – and the presentation of clever concepts and implementations. Raumwelten offers very different formats for this objective, providing information and solutions as well as inspiration and exchange.

The intelligent and creative management of the coronavirus crisis is certainly the most urgent task which not only virologists, epidemiologists and politicians have to deal with, but also social scientists, philosophers, and creative people. However, the global crisis is not the result of a virus that has already become politically independent and in many places is leading to new nationalism and regional isolation; it already existed and was eventually intensified by the coronavirus. It consists of crises of climate, globalisation, urban spaces, and migration, to name but a few. But crises are not endpoints, they are turning points. Crises are part and expression of change and transformation, which often are painful and precarious, but may also entail improvement and new developments.

In this respect, many of the projects and concepts presented at Raumwelten are concerned with utopias and spatial-social experiments. However, they are seldom merely abstract, but show ways of how the problems and challenges in scenography and architecture, urban planning and events can be creatively dealt with in order to produce, ideally, the spaces and places we really want to live in! Because ultimately the question arises whether there will really be a “new normality” or whether we will quickly fall back into the old patterns and routines again, once a vaccine will be available. And of course, the question arises as to what this “new normality” will look like socially, economically, culturally, but also spatially. Already today, tendencies are emerging which we want to discuss at Raumwelten 2020: These include the comeback and upgrading of the rural and rural space, which is very diverse and often not very idyllic, as shown, for example, by Rem Koolhaas’ exhibition “Countryside, The Future”.

In addition to inspiration and reflection, we hope that Raumwelten will also provide us with concrete suggestions and ideas on how to creatively solve the challenges of designing trade fairs and events or (temporary) buildings, and on how to develop new business models for spatial communication. Formats such as Raumwelten New Business, Raumwelten Digital or ABC Scenography are important for this, as they offer practical suggestions and an intensive exchange of ideas among participants.

But at the core of Raumwelten is the Conference with five top-class panels, curated in an excellent and complex way by Janina Poesch/Sabine Marinescu (Plot), Charlotte Tamschick, Jean-Louis Vidière Esèpe and Tobias Wallisser. We would like to thank them for putting together an innovative and internationally relevant programme despite the difficult conditions! We would also like to thank the almost 50 top speakers and artists such as Daan Roosegaarde, Nathalie van Sasse van Ysselt, Mitchell Joachim, Ren Yee, and Dara Smith. Many of them wanted to come and had to change their plans and concepts at short notice to give their talks and presentations online.

Our motto “20 2 0 2.0 – Please Install New Spatial System Now!” was, partly intentional and partly not, also a guideline for the organisational and conceptual implementation of this year’s event: Right from the start we had been planning a hybrid Raumwelten edition, which was to include the chance of internationalisation and the expansion of content into digital space. However, due to the German Federal coronavirus regulations, we had to initiate a short-term adaptation of Raumwelten from “hybrid” to “online only” on October 27. In addition to the Raumwelten Conference, we had planned exhibitions, a Family Day, and a special Ambient Lab Festival to take place at our new, great venue, Kunstzentrum Karlskaserne in Ludwigsburg. All these Raumwelten Public activities, most of which should have been accessible free of charge, we had to and have been able to adapt for the online format. Thus, the Reithalle at Kunstzentrum Karlskaserne is transformed from a public venue to a professional streaming studio with a disturbing yet extremely fitting stage design by Stuttgart all-round artist Robin Treier which pinpoints the current situation of the cultural and creative industry.

We are very happy that our team (once again!), our partners, service providers and sponsors have supported us with great passion and motivation in this very dynamic and complex time. In addition to the staff of Film- und Medienfestival gGmbH, we would like to make special mention of the Karlskaserne team around Jochen Raithel, our new main partner Volksbank Ludwigsburg, and our cinema partner Central & Union Filmtheater who is again massively affected by the lockdown! This year too we would like to thank the IBA’27 and PopBüro Region Stuttgart for their support, the exciting input and the more than pleasant cooperation.

We wish you much inspiration and interaction with this new digital form of Raumwelten, which may even lead us to recognise and install “new systems” of experiencing and working in real and digital spaces – loosely based on the call of architectural theorist and philosopher Paul B. Preciado: “Learning from the Virus!”

Prof. Ulrich Wegenast & Dieter Krauß
Artistic Managing Director & Commercial Managing Director

Photo. Reiner Pfisterer