Hito Steyerl's video installation Leonardo's Submarine—which debuted at the 2019 Venice Biennale—returns virtually, as the aptly titled Virtual Leonardo's Submarine.
The modified piece, which can be experienced via VR goggles or browser, may be streamed through Andrew Krep Gallery's virtual viewing room of the same name.
According to the gallery's text on the Virtual Leonardo's Submarine, Steyerl's inspiration for the project is an early 16th century sketch by Leonardo da Vinci that proposes a design for a submarine-like vessel:
In 1515, Leonardo designed a weapon that would allow Venice to defend itself from the attacks of the Ottoman Empire: a proto submarine that could sink enemy ships inadvertently. Despite the fact that the Doge of the Republic would have rewarded him generously, Leonardo decided to bury his invention under obscure descriptions and cyphered diagrams.
Leonardo eventually concluded that people were too evil to handle such a destructive technology. Steyerl embarks the viewer on a metaphorical journey aboard Leonardo's vessel. Venice's laguna, palazzi and skies, generated by Artificial Intelligence video processing, flow dreamlike and foreign, while a voice-over speaks of technology, power, corruption, art and warfare, topics that the artist has explored thoroughly over the last years.
Hito Steyerl, Virtual Leonardo’s Submarine, 2020. Virtual Reality, duration variable. Courtesy the artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2020. Images © Hito Steyerl.