digital, art and philosophy united to reflect on the metaverse

As the idea of ​​the metaverse takes hold, experts participated in a day of debates on the subject on Monday 14 November.

The metaverse is a concept as vague as it is fascinating. Many events and conferences are therefore organized on the subject, whether it is a question of discussing technologies, culture, economics or ethics. Among these: Nel Metaverso, a day organized by BNP Paribas e Fish eyehas explored these themes through panel discussions and artistic performances.

The metaverse offers a whole new universe of possibilities for artists interested in digital. However, as we can see with current metaverse attempts, especially Horizon Worlds, it’s still hard to break away from just copying the real thing. This too was a problem in the early days of virtual reality and the internet, but over time the metaverse will also find its own language and formats.

Artists Cyril Laurier and Maya Mouawad are among those artists who use digital to create immersive works of art. Beyond the reflection on the message to be transmitted with the work, the challenge is knowing how to make it heard and think about the management of the space so that finally, as Cyril Laurier explains, “the technology disappears and the message appears”. But new technologies themselves can be sources of inspiration: “We are obliged to free the tools, to know what is possible. Available technologies can also give us ideas. »

With their engaging work PopularCyril Laurier and Maya Mouawad launch a reflection on the way in which vegetation coexists with urbanization.© Marie Flament

Introducing the event, the co-founder of Fish eyeBenoît Baume, has already raised today a first problem of the ecosystem of the metaverse: “The merchant aspect of the metaverse may be at the end of the road, but it can’t be at the beginning. » Indeed, it is the obsession with profitability, monetization and potential wealth that dictates many decisions on metaverses today, the speculation around virtual real estate and the Meta debacle in the face of the lack of profitability of Horizon worlds be particularly significant examples. The doctor of economics, Julien Pillot, regrets that think tanks are built around the metaverses “many industrialists and few intellectuals”while it is a complex concept that requires a multidisciplinary approach.

The 6ml collective questions the relationship between user and avatar by showing the anguish of a group of characters grappling with a bug in their metaverse.© Marie Flament

Ethics and philosophy of virtual societies

The notion of virtual society can recall this idea of ​​a “sovereign metaverse” on a French or European scale, proposed among others by the French political class. If this notion is so prevalent, it is because Europe has been traumatized by the inability to build a company with Google’s global reach and to secure basic freedoms online, which gives the impression that we are not in control of the our digital destiny. Despite these concerns, the Ministry of Culture’s digital chief, Romain Lasupers, insisted that the government views the metaverse primarily as a matter of cultural policy. An approach confirmed last September by the creation of a fund of several million euros a year dedicated to immersive works.

Éric Sadin, thinker specializing in the digital world, gave a philosophical perspective on the evolution of technologies from the 2000s to reach the metaverse and the risks that this could cause for humanity, creating a form of collective isolation that increasingly alienates us and more by bringing us the world and finally replacing our real perceptions with virtual sensations. This intervention was complemented by a theatrical performance by the 6ml collective on the sometimes fusional, obsessive or conflictual bond between the user and his avatar, between the real and the virtual.

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