digital, art and philosophy brought together to reflect on the metaverse

As the idea of ​​the metaverse gains ground, experts took part in a day of debates on the topic 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 concerns technology, culture, economics or ethics. Among them: In the Metaverse, a day organized by BNP Paribas and Fish eyeexplored these questions through round tables and artistic performances.

The Metaverse offers a whole new universe of possibilities for artists interested in digital. But as we can see with current metaverse attempts, especially Horizon Worlds, it’s still hard to break away from simply copying the real thing. This was also 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 the artists who use digital to create immersive works of art. In addition to the reflection on the message to be conveyed with the work, the challenge is to know how to make it feel and to think about the management of the space, so that finally, as Cyril Laurier explains, “the technology disappears and the message appears”. But the new technologies themselves can be sources of inspiration: “We are obliged to clear the tools, to know what is possible. Available technologies can also give us ideas. »

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

Introduction to the event, co-founded by Fish eyeBenoît Baume, already today raised a first problem with the metaverse ecosystem: “The merchant aspect of the metaverse may be at the end of the road, but it cannot be at the beginning. » Indeed, it is the obsession with profitability, monetization and potential wealth that dictates many decisions about the metaverse today, the speculation surrounding virtual real estate and the Metas debacle in light of the lack of profitability of Horizon worlds are particularly striking examples. The doctor of economics Julien Pillot, he laments that the think tanks around metaverse consist of “many industrialists and few intellectuals”while it is a complex concept that requires a multidisciplinary approach.

The 6ml collective questions the user-avatar relationship by showing the distress of a group of characters facing a flaw in their metaverse.© Marie Flament

Ethics and Philosophy of Virtual Communities

The concept of virtual society may recall this idea of ​​a “sovereign metaverse” on a French or European scale, proposed among others by the French political class. If this concept is so widespread, it is because Europe has been traumatized by its inability to create a company with the global impact of Google and guarantee basic freedoms online, giving the impression of not being in control of our digital destiny. Despite these concerns, the digital head of the Ministry of Culture, Romain Lasupers, insisted that the government considers the metaverse above all a matter of cultural policy. An approach that was confirmed last September by the creation of a fund of several million euros per year dedicated to immersive works.

Éric Sadin, thinker specializing in the digital world, gave a philosophical perspective on the development of technologies since the 2000s to reach the metaverse and on the risks this could bring to humanity by creating a form of collective isolation , which sedentary us more and more by bringing the world to us and ultimately by replacing our real perceptions with virtual sensations. This intervention was complemented by a theater performance from the 6ml collective about the sometimes fusional, obsessive or contradictory connection between the user and his avatar, between the real and the virtual.

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