Agency of Disappearances

Agency of Disappearances
Agency of Disappearances, the XR installation. Environment of fragmentations, illusions and explorations.
A practice speculating on strategies of spatial dissolution in the format of immersive narratives, in advocacy of digital privacy and anonymity

Merve Sahin
Vienna, Austria
Architect and researcher who creates spatial narratives about post-digital public spaces through speculative storytelling in the architectural medium
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Visual Art, Film, Research
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

I am a Vienna-based spatial designer and researcher using architectural and digital representation techniques as a medium for visual storytelling. My work reveals tangible and intangible layers of the built environment through immersive drawings and animations, drawing attention to the socio-political power structures embedded in post-digital public spaces.

I hold a master's degree in architecture from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In 2021 I joined the research and design team at Wolfgang Tschapeller Architects, where I had the opportunity to combine experimentation with practical application. At the same time, I have continued my personal research practice and co-founded space a.tonal, a post-digital architectural practice. My project 'All Watched Over' was selected as a finalist in the EU-Mies Awards, Young Talent category and exhibited at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2023, along with other events.

In 2023 I received the start-grant for my ongoing research “'Reimagining Historic Theatre Typologies for the Digital Age: Empowering Public Voice and Communal Spectacles Amidst Surveillance”' from the Austrian Ministry of Art and Culture. Through the same research I was also accepted into the Art Mentoring Programme of the University of Fine Arts Vienna.

In an increasingly interconnected and digital world, surveillance and privacy are becoming crucial parameters for space-creation. My visualizations speculate on new urban conditions of anonymity, privacy, liberation and spectacle that offer communities refuge from the surveillance gaze. I explore forms of transition; transparencies, reflections and fragmentations that contradict the contemporary visual mode of constant visibility and commodification that the digital age demands. This results in 'spatial phantoms', where spatial expressions are ephemeral to leave room for freedom, exploration and interpretation.

Agency of Disappearances aims to offer strategies of spatial dissolution and camouflage from the digital surveillance gaze.It seeks interiors of privacy, anonymity, liberation and spectacle through novel material and programmatic definitions. It is an exploration of post-digital publicness and community interactions in an increasingly monitored and mediated digital world.

With the rise of artificial intelligence, surveillance algorithms, and digitisation, our data is being collected. We are increasingly online, sharing our personas and increasing our digital footprints. Algorithms have the potential to police users' interests and tendencies. The rapid development of spatial media (VR/AR/XR) has the potential to create a future in which physical space is no longer separate from this virtual terrain. The Agency of Disappearances aims to bring a new understanding to the merging of physical spaces with virtual landscapes and to develop spatial tools of privacy, selective invisibility and self-imposed anonymity against data surveillance to challenge the understanding of future body politics.

As a working method,it reconstructs historical media typologies of theaters, parliaments, panorama houses and public forums and adapts them to contemporary modes of visuality. The artifacts operate on multiple scales in relation to the body and the media. Digital storytelling tools such as mappings, animations and immersive installations are the main narrative mediums, while physical props connect viewers to the fictional realities.Agency is conceived as an XR experience, a project of exploration with a physical structure accompanied by an immersive animation.

Agents of Disappearances; transparent, reflective and fragmented forms, render users invisible to the algorithms, thereby contradicting the politics of commodification. It speculates on architectures of disappearances that is symbolizing how architecture and technology can empower people to engage in new public ways.