COMBATscience Augmented

Augmented reality installation, 2018/19

COMBATscience Augmented is an augmented reality installation developed for Head-mounted displays (HoloLens).
The work takes the contents of the 2008 multimedia environment COMBATscience at the Volkstheater in Vienna, and transforms them into another sensory setting.

The life stories of chemist Fritz Haber (1868–1934) and his wife Clara Immerwahr (1870–1915), also a doctor in chemistry, serve as the background from which different scenarios evolve. They address questions about the role of science between research ethics and feasibility dreams.

Fritz Haber and Clara Immerwahr were a couple with opposing mindsets:
In World War I Haber employed his knowledge as the head designer of German gas warfare; the pacifist Immerwahr committed suicide following the first gas attack by German forces.
The estrangement of the spouses had already begun far earlier: The ambitioned chemist Clara Immerwahr, one of the first females with a doctor’s degree in Germany, was expelled from the laboratory and pushed into the role of wife and assistant.

Whereas the visitors were led through a 50-minute performative collage at the Volkstheater,
now viewers navigate between exemplary stations of the storyline with wireless data goggles. Digital holographic miniatures and scenarios unfold amidst the real surroundings and the other exhibits. In contrast to the atmosphere of the theatre, the installation can only be experienced from an individual viewpoint through the HoloLens.

The main elements of the AR scenarios are five passages spoken and performed by two actors who play Immerwahr and Haber. Their actions are reserved, more in the style of a tableau vivant. The texts for the four monologues and the main dialogue deal with their respective viewpoints on the purpose of science, how these perspectives drift apart, and the personal and political consequences thereof.

The figures of Haber and Immerwahr are each activated with a hand gesture. Original materials and statements attributed to the two scientists form the basis for the texts.

Departing from these scenes, the underlying theme is transported to the present day through text, sound, and moving image: Text objects and autonomous soundspots sketch out the implications and social consequences of artificial intelligence and algorithms.

Concept and realisation: Ruth Schnell, Patricia Köstring
Software design: Thomas Hochwallner; Support programming: Johannes Hucek, Peter Koger, Norbert Unfug; Scan and recording technics: Thomas Hochwallner, Fritz Ölberg, Gabriel Schönangerer; Actress Clara Immerwahr: Maria Schuchter; Actor Fritz Haber: Thomas Kamper

 

Autor*in: Ruth Schnell