© Fleischmann & Strauss ;
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ART + COM—An Interdisciplinary Media Lab in West-Berlin (1987–1992)
How did it all start? In the mid-1980s, few people thought that everyone would have a computer in their home. It was a rather futuristic goal to explore the computer as a tool and medium for communication. But, in West Berlin there was already a nucleus of digital media. Urban Studies Professor Edouard Bannwart led a research project on data communication between art academies in Berlin, Braunschweig and Kassel.
In Berlin, he gradually brought in other digital and analog experts. Some, like Fleischmann and Strauss, came from the University of the Arts, others from Mental Images, a Berlin based software firm, from the Technical University and some associated with the Chaos Computer Club. Discussions went on all night long until a common language interlinking the disciplines were found. One year later, in 1988, they established ART + COM as an institute for the design and development of digital media in the form of a registered association. Berkom, Deutsche Telekom’s research department, generously supported them. The IT industry provided them with hardware free of charge. They wrote their first research proposals.
At that time, remarkable scenarios were conceived as part of the long-term research projects New Media in Urban Planning and The Digital Model House. The interactive city simulation Berlin-Cyber City (1989) took visitors into the past and the future of Berlin after the fall of the Wall. It was followed by one of the world's first artistic VR installations, Home of the Brain (1989), which took the visitor inside the virtual New National Gallery. Both works illustrate the idea of a continuous virtual landscape of information that strives for a seamless transition from large to small, as in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll or in Power of Ten by Charles & Ray Eames. You can move from a bird's-eye view of the city into Mies van der Rohe's New National Gallery, into the virtual exhibition about four thinkers, into their houses of thought.

Here the idea of a consistent world information structure emerges, as it was realized a short time later in the ART + COM project TerraVision (1993) using satellite data and finally introduced as the mass product Google Earth (2007) and Google Earth Timelapse (2021). The legal dispute between ART + COM and Google on this topic—partly fictional—became public through the Netflix movie The Billion Dollar Code .

TerraVision (1993-94) by Axel Schmidt, Gerd Grüneis, Pavel Mayer, Joachim Sauter and many others at ART + COM.
Europe Tour Google Earth (2007),,
Our Cities | Timelapse in Google Earth (2021) CRE222 Terravision 2021.
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Exhibitions & Events