by Josefine Hübler
What is the concept of ‘home’ for us in particular — and what categories, what possibilities are revealed by this question? How do we resemble each other and how do we differ in relation to the concept of home as a conjunction of privacy and intimacy?
Is it possible to draw conventional distinctions when, first, globalization and digitalization are blending the private and the public spheres and, second, information systems are constantly entering our most intimate moments? What if we could use the infrastructure and services, the multitude of possibilities and offers, of our urban centres collectively, free from the constraints of the constant repair, renewal and maintenance of flats and buildings that we own or rent? Based on the gaming approach known as “visual novel”, Rebecca Merlic designed with her interactive virtual artwork “TheCityAsAHouse” an attempt to identify Tokyo and herself as a multitude of lived experiences that refuse to depend on a distinctive place but use the whole infrastructure of the city as initial points of retreat and pleasure, boredom and excitement and thus open new ways for reflection on future urban use. Merlics nine NFTs on display are fractions from “TheCityAsAHouse” — “Vx即席ExperiencesVx即席Somas”. Traditional notions on private spaces are thus subjected to a reassessment in the 20 to a maximum of 80 second clips and liquefies into countless encounters from the public — now privatized — space.
At the center of all these narratives is always the question of what it means to feel at home and what conditions are needed to do so. Merlic addresses the transience and uniqueness of this very personal feeling by capturing her daily life in an intuitive manner. Despite all the technical and media refinements of our time, we are still not able to fully exchange, share or grasp those very personal emotions that occur during particular moments. Since Tokyo is almost exclusively owned by private investors, all publicly accessible places are in a state of friction.
As a result, urban residents shift from one private space to the next in a constant flux of mobility. Rebecca Merlic captures the way narratives are created within that circulation — and indeed transformed into narratives, in her very subjective “visual novel” — makes them accessible to her counterpart by means of an interactive artwork. Back then, the city allowed for the emergence of a turbo-dense, capitalism-driven space generator for satisfying one’s personal longings and needs. The question is whether the in-between spaces, the decentralization, as well as networked and digitalized urbanism are making it possible to live without private spaces. “TheCityAsAHouse” bypasses ideologically biased criticism of socio-economic imbalances such as exploding real estate and rent prices and precarious employment relationships and pleads for not desperately fighting for a return to stability, overview and order in the midst of urban chaos, but rather looking ahead and taking new paths.
“My smartphone is my only property, my organizer. No need for private spaces in the future. A conservative private space consists of rooms to, wash, eat, delight and store. I used to live in an apartment in the past. The conservative apartment had 4 rooms. A bedroom, living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. I sleep in public spaces. In the train, in the love hotel, in the capsule, in the Anime Cafe, book and bed, 9h, or at the workplace. The bedroom is abolished. No more cooking. The infrastructure of the so-called Konbini and affordable food in restaurants, fast-food restaurants and street food stalls is abundant and an integral part of Japanese everyday life and culture. The kitchen is abolished. Bathing is carried out in public spaces. In so-called sentos. Bathhouses are not only meant for cleaning, but also for your well-being, beauty and health. The bathroom is abolished. The city as a house is a new strategy of dissolving one room after another. It is a Liberation. We don’t have to own or pretend to have property anymore.” (Rebecca Merlic)
The concept of privacy is often tied to architectural structures — a deliberate barrier from the inside to the outside is created through the static boundaries that are created. In Tokio — one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations — things are different. Merlic explored those very ideas of intimacy and privacy that are not defined by architectural structures but by the possibilities of interaction. She transferred then her explorations into an interactive virtual reality. By using real facts, numbers and data she offers us the ability to recreate and somehow grasp her feeling in that particular moment. Besides GPS-data, body scans and heart rates, the entire data material, which can already be seen as a stand-alone work, it entails a digital diary, prosaic sketches of experiences and photo and video recordings. All of these were subsequently processed in various software applications such as Unity, Visual Studio and Rhino and function as the contextual heart of the interactive game.
Rebecca Merlic (*1989) studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the University of the Arts Tokyo. Her multi-layered and interactive artworks have been shown at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2017, 2018, 2020), the Tappered Gallery Tokyo (2018) and “Athens Digital Arts Festival” (2020) with a solo exhibition. In 2020 she received the acclaimed Marianne.von.Willemer Prize for her artwork “TheCityAsAHouse”. At the Ars Electronica Festival 2020 Rebeca Merlic participated with a solo exhibition in the “Ars Electronica Garden” of the VENT Gallery. Her work is strongly influenced by alternative ways of society and transgression in socio-economic conventions as well as new forms of architectural production employing new technologies.
To watch all videos and discover our other artist vistit https://www.prtl.art/artists/rebecca-merlic
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