DKB VR Art Prize

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Nominated for VR ART PRIZE 2023



Marlene Bart works at the intersection of natural history, anatomy, and the visual arts. She combines scientific and artistic images to create a new visual language. To what extent does this common visual language make it possible to rethink systems of order in the natural sciences? Here, Bart’s research is also artistic—how can the human relationship to these categories be influenced and even altered by virtual reality, or VR. Using a variety of techniques (prints, artists’ books, sculptures, installations, VR), she shifts historical books and other evidence into a contemporary context.

Marlene Bart studied the visual arts under Professor Wolfgang Ellenrieder at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig (HBK), at Villa Arson (École nationale supérieure d'art) in Nice and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She has a master’s degree in “Art in Context” from the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK). From 2017-2020 she was an instructor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig (HBK) and from 2020-2021 she taught at the Bauhaus University Weimar. Bart is the founder and editor of the transdisciplinary book series Atlas der Datenkörper, published by transcript Verlag. Marlene Bart lives in Berlin.


© Portrait Marlene Bart by Rica Rosa

Theatrum Radix, 2022

The VR experience Theatrum Radix combines systems of categorization used in natural history with contemporary technologies such as CT scans and 3D modeling. In the virtual space, natural objects are turned into new, surreal, moving pictures and supplemented by artworks. Viewers literally immerse themselves inside of bones, or a glass brain, or in the interior life of a dissected frog. They traverse iridescent and shimmering mirror images of wetlands. Boundaries between the types of animals and plants are dissolved, creating a speculative outline dealing with habitats and systems of order. This allows viewers to change perspective. They find themselves at a remove from the human, anthropocentric perspective, and the systems it uses to categorize nature.


The title can be traced back to a seventeenth-century Italian philosopher, Guilio Camillo, and his Theater of Memory. Camillo planned a theater in which he could unite knowledge of the world and of the universe, like an encyclopedia. His theater, however, was never a physical reality. Theatrum Radix picks up on this idea and creates hybrid universe oscillating between the physical world and virtual space, formulating a critique of the human perspective of nature. Theatrum Radix opens up a playful, interconnected view of objects, instead of reproducing order as a hierarchical concept.


An important reference point is the memory theater of Italian philosopher Guilio Camillo (17th Century). Camillo planned a theater in which he could unite the knowledge of the world and the cosmos. It was based on the seven known planets at that time. However, his theater was never physically realized. „Theatrum Radix“ takes up this idea to formulate a critique of the anthropocentric . The work also bridges two- and a three-dimensional knowledge spaces.

In order to realise the complex imagery of the project , specially developed 3D renderings, as well as surface scans and CT scans from the Natural History Museum Berlin were used.


„Theatrum Radix“ playfully opens up a networked view of the handling of zoological objects and encourages us to think of order not as a hierarchical form, but as an organic and evolving network.