As virtual reality technology improves, questions arise about the possibilities it brings. Could it stimulate a spiritual experience? Florian Auer’s practice explores the constructed nature of reality, testing the limits of simulations. His work addresses technology, spirituality and materiality combining techniques such as 3D modelling and hand-made craft. Beginning with his time at art school, he worked with replicas and illusions, a pizza box that resembled a Mac book for example, drawing attention to the arbitrary nature of status symbols.
Auer often turns to borrowed ideas using the work of other artists as a starting point. Recently, he has been looking at the work of American-German textile artist Anni Albers, transforming images of her weavings into digital textiles that can be applied to 3D models. His wall-mounted sculpture Untitled (Brecht) explores this uncanny ability of 3D models to have texture without tactility. The work is a relief sculpted from fibreglass and digitally printed textile suspended from the wall. At first glance it appears to be three dimensional, but moving around the piece reveals itself to be flat, suspended a few centimetres from the wall. The illusion is enhanced by the digital print that creates the impression of a woven fabric on the fibreglass.
The silhouette of the jacket is based on a photograph of German playwright Bertolt Brecht sitting on a table. He is wearing a worker’s jacket that he had made to measure by his tailor. Brecht’s jacket is a simulation of a worker’s jacket. The photograph is a simulation of Brecht’s jacket and Auer’s sculpture is a simulation of this simulation.
In his 2019 exhibition at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler titled Spiritual Reality, Auer explored the relationship between the spiritual and virtual, with a particular interest in Land artists of the 1960s and 70s and how they translated the experience of the natural environment to a gallery space, while maintaining the spiritual and physical elements. The exhibition includes a sound element integrated into a sculpture that uses a readymade workbench covered in ordinary objects such as a cap, key and backpack. These objects are paired with digitally printed images of the Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon that represents the experiential. The work addresses Auer’s interest in what can be simulated and what cannot, contrasting quotidian items with the experience of the Northern Lights. Currently, Auer has turned his attention to creating an artist’s book titled Virtual Poetry, asking whether poetic experience can be found in the virtual.