Educational Projects

The Immersive Arts Space hosts classes and diploma projects from all departments of the ZHdK and conducts its own educational courses. The launch of the transversal minor program Immersive Arts is planned for autumn 2023.

Public Lecture Series

Spring 2022: immersion and Extended Realities

Shifting Realities @REFRESH#4, photo by Regula Bearth © ZHdK 2021

In this series, immersive strategies are discussed from different perspectives. Guest lecturers from the Swiss Institute of Technology ETHZ, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences HSLU and the University of Zurich UZH will share their specific views along with lecturers from the ZHdK. The topics will cover Architecture, Virtual Reality, Virtual Forensics, Game Aspects in Theatre and Extended Reality.

The series are planned to take place physically at the Cinema Toni, ZHdK, with a simultaneous live-stream. More information will follow soon.

March 8th, 2022 | 17:15- 18:30h
Matthias Vollmer, architect and research associate in the MediaLab at the ETH Zurich:

March 22nd, 2022 | 17:15- 18:30h
Christina Zimmermann, artist/filmmaker and researcher at Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences HSLU:

April 4th, 2022 | 17:15- 18:30h
Lars Elmer und Till Sieberth, co-heads of the 3D Center Zurich at the University of Zurich:

April 19th, 2022 | 17:15- 18:30h
Réjane Dreifuss, dramaturg, lecturer and researcher, Department of Performing Arts and Film, ZHdK:

May 3rd, 2022 | 17:15- 18:30h
Christian Iseli and team members of the Immersive Arts Space, ZHdK:


Melody Chua, Master of Arts in Transdisciplinary Studies

Public Lecture Series
DECEMBER 7th, 17:15 -18:30 | Kino Toni, ZHdK | Live stream

The improvisation machine is an elusive figure. It has no universally agreed-upon form but is instead in a state of continuous fluidity of audiovisual representations. Throughout the performance, it shifts between being treated as a distinct musical agent to being regarded as an embodied posthuman extension to its human counterpart. It is always in tension between the attempt to recognize it as a distinctly encapsulated entity and at the same time as a synergy of independent entities, the fluctuations between which are shaped through immersive representations of itself and the performance environment.
The development of and performance with an improvisation machine can, with careful reflection, serve as a practical method upon which to be relinquished from our traditional understandings of embodiment. The form of the improvisation machine—fragmented through spatially separated electronic devices and mediums—is inherently discombobulated. Indeed, the fragmentation of the improvisation machine reflects a mindbody conceptualization offered by media artist and researcher Lisa Blackman: “We are never a singular body, but are multiple bodies that are brought into being and held together through complex practices of self-production.”
In this lecture, I reflect upon the facets of immersion and embodiment as they manifest in the field of improvised music performance between human and nonhuman agents, using my work black box fading as a case study. How do immersive representations of and experiences between such agents on both audio and visual levels instigate different considerations of what embodiment can be? How can these reflect our biases concerning control, (dis)orientation, and vulnerability in immersive environments?

Melody Chua is an interdisciplinary artist working with interactive technologies in improvisation settings as both vehicles of narrative expression and as opportunities to destabilize the normatives present in one’s relationship with such technologies. The aesthetics of her work gravitate towards immersive futuristic fictions with undertones of nostalgia and introspection, pulling audiences into intimate worlds. Awarded a Fulbright-Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship for the development of a sensor-augmented flute (Chaosflöte), Melody has performed and guest-lectured internationally at festivals and institutions such as the Swiss Digital Day, Network Music Festival, Atlantic Music Festival Future Music Lab, La Côte Flute Festival, Performing Media Festival, Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, New Interfaces for Music Expression (NIME) Conference, University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart, University of South Florida, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, among others.


Marie-France Rafael, Department of Fine Arts

Public Lecture Series
November 23rd, 17:15 -18:30 | Kino Toni, ZHdK | Live stream

What does it mean to think, to see, to act, to feel and to live through the post-digital? Since the 2010s the boundaries between public and private, online and offline have become increasingly blurred due to digitalization and social media. In contemporary art digitality has assumed a new kind of presence—no longer a mere virtual sphere of sociality, but increasingly as a technological interface that structures our most embodied experiences. Today, contemporary art cannot escape digital image production, circulation, and consumption, so what may it look like to engage it–thematize it even–in the work of art itself? A younger generation of artists is specifically focused on the mass circulation, connectivity, and constructedness of images. The production of artistic content, its circulation, and its reception are thus increasingly intertwined processes that are no longer distributed among different instances: Artistic practice has undergone a drastic transformation: it is shaped by the notion of the presence of the digital even beyond digital media and explores new forms of (post-)digital relationality as well as embodied experiences between on- and offline.

Marie-France Rafael is a Tenure Track professor in the Master program of the Department of Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) since 2019. She holds a PhD in Art History. She studied Art History and Film Studies in Berlin and Paris. From 2011 to 2015 she was a research associate at the Free University of Berlin and until 2019 at the Muthesius University Kiel, Department of Spatial Strategies/Curatorial Spaces. Her monograph «Reisen ins Imaginativ. Künstlerische Displays und Situationen» (Cologne: Walther König, 2017), examines artistic strategies of presentation in contemporary art. Other publications include «Brice Dellsperger. On Gender Performance» (Berlin: Floating Opera Press, 2020), «Ari Benjamin Meyers. Music on Display» (Cologne: Walther König, 2016), and «Pierre Huyghe. On Site» (Cologne: Walther König, 2013).

Emerging Talents: Stella Speziali & Chris Elvis Leisi

ZHdK Talent Talk in the context of Swiss Digital Days

Stella Speziali is research associate in the Immersive Arts Space and will talk about her research project on the topic of digital humans.

Thanks to technological advancements the creation of virtual characters is more accessible than ever. New time-saving platforms have been created, thus democratising the access to high-fidelity, real-time, fully-rigged, diverse, portable, 3D human characters.
With My Digital Twin, I wish to understand better the creation and deployment of digital humans with different critical approaches. Furthermore, I am ethically questioning their applications in entertainment, marketing, art, and beyond.

Chris Elvis Leisi, research associate in the Immersive Arts Space and a graduate of the ZHdK Game Design program, talks about his graduation project Virtual Real World.

In today’s VR games, the body often serves as the controller. However, when the player enters the virtual world, the connection to the physical environment is often lost. This master’s thesis deals with immersion mechanics in Virtual Reality and reveals the potentials that arise when one’s own home can be integrated into the virtual world as a play area.

The ZHdK talent talk took place on November 4th at the Kino Toni.
Speaker: Stella Speziali (en), Chris Elvis Leisi (de)
Host: Christian Iseli