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The ZKM has been the first cultural institution in the world that has created, under one
roof, a place for new media art research, production, presentation, collection and publi-
cation.Today, the ZKM houses a variety of different institutes and museums, a media theatre
as well as the State Academy for Design (Hochschule für Gestaltung).
Apart from the
Academy for Design, which is the "prodigal sister" of the ZKM but a separate organisational
entity, the Centre for Arts and Media combines all the essential facilities along the value
chain of new media art production.
The research and production components: The innovative back ends
The ZKM maintains two research and production departments, the Institute for Music and
Acoustics and the Institute for Visual Media. Both institutes see their main function in providing
artists with the best possible support in creating innovative new media art.As Jeffrey Shaw,
Head of the Institute for Visual Media, put it:"We decided the most valuable thing we could
do was to set up a facilitative environment for professional artists working with new media
that would give them the opportunity to do research, to have access to high level technical
and intellectual resources, and offer a stimulating context in which to produce new work.
On the other hand we would not be involved in teaching artists new to this field how to
work with these technologies as we felt this aspect was being handled by the new media art
schools (such as the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe), and would distract us from
our main research and production focus." (DigiCULT Interview, June 29, 2001)
Both ZKM institutes offer an environment that gives artists access to two things
normally not available to new media artists: high level equipment and the opportunity
to work over extended time periods.
Institute for Visual Media
The Institute for Visual Media understands itself as centre of creativity and an experi-
mental space where invited artists from all over the world can research, experiment and
explore innovative uses of new media technologies through their art projects. Artists have
unlimited, free-of-charge access to high-end graphic computers, digital video equipment, a
virtual studio and a multimedia laboratory to realise art works based on technologies that
represent the most recent focus of artistic practice. Besides offering access to a functioning
infrastructure, the institute's technical staff also consults with the artists and is in-volved in the
development of generic hard- and software tools that explicitly serve the artistic needs.
In the last years, an enormous research and development effort has been invested into the
following areas, many times in co-operative, interdisciplinary projects of artists, companies
and other cultural institutions around the world:
digital video: development of the virtual studio which allows the combination of
virtually created images with motion captured live action,
interactivity: special focus is given on developing innovative interactive interfaces
between the audience and the art work,
virtual reality: development of custom virtual reality techniques for real time
graphics applications in interactive situations,
simulation: for example, synchronising actual body movement and visual movements
in virtual environments, using a hydraulic simulation platform developed in the
telecommunication: experimenting with different forms of tele-presence using the
broadband, fibre-optic network available at ZKM, as well as distributed connectivity
between remote locations,
The State Academy for Design was conceptualised and founded as the educational "branch" in parallel and complementary to the ZKM and
understands itself as partner in the production and presentation of new media art.