Open Call #2 (2021)


Based on Descartes’ comparison of a non-material “thinking substance” and a “material substance”, the cognitive sciences were dominated until the 1990s by the assumption that cognition takes place purely via the brain as an information-processing system that works in principle like a computer. Perceptual and motor systems served as peripheral input and output devices.

In 1994, the neurologist Antonio Damasio published Descartes’ Error as a warning against understanding body and spirit, mind and emotion as two separate systems. Rather, cognition cannot be explained without reference to a specific body (embodiment) and a specific environment (situatedness) – an insight that underlies embodiment or embodied cognition.

In computer science, embodiment generally refers to the representation of a user in a media or virtual environment. Frank Biocca (1997) defines progressive embodiment as the steadily advancing immersion of (physic) sensorimotor channels in computer interfaces – achieved through an ever tighter and more pervasive coupling of the body with interface sensors and displays. The goal of embodiment is presence: the user thinks and feels that he is present as an avatar in a virtual world. If he loses himself in the artificial presence of the technical, the human being becomes a cyborg.

The OPEN CALL #2 of the XR_Unites project is aimed at interdisciplinary teams from Berlin’s cultural scene and creative industries that deal with embodiment and related socially relevant issues in the medium of virtual reality, both formally and in terms of content. Input on embodiment will be provided at an XR_Unites event at the beginning of June. As with the first Open Call, the result will be an interactive multi-user experience.

XR_Unites offers advice and support for agile development including programming, the necessary software and a contingent of VR hardware for testing and presentation purposes. The XR_Unites expert board provides feedback on the implementation. At the end of the joint development there is a presentation co-organized by XR_Unites.

Provisional timetable
JunInfo and networking event on Embodiment in Culture and Informatics
OctGetting to know each other and preparation phase
Oct-DezJoint concept phase
Definition of required digital content
Fixing the timetable
Jan-MayCollaborative agile development
Consultation of the expert board
Digital content production
JunJoint presentation
The Jury

Pablo Dornhege
Director Im/material Theatre Spaces; project management and representative for digitality and new technologies at the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft e.V.

Christoph Holtmann
Developer of XR_Unites and expert in applied, interactive and immersive media.

Peggy Schoenegge
Curator of numerous exhibitions, a.o. on embodiment, and project manager of the platform peer to space and board member of mkv – Medienkunstverein.

Dagmar Schürrer
Media artist, expert in XR art and digital media production.

Maja Stark
Art scholar with a focus on embodiment in art and computer science. Coordinator of the INKA projects AURORA School for ARtists and XR_Unites.

All jury members are part of the expert board or the XRU Team!

Application criteria
  • Interdisciplinary team of at least three people living in Berlin.
  • The result is an interactive multi-user experience in virtual reality 
  • Conceptual degree of innovation with simultaneous feasibility
  • Feasible start of the collaboration mid-September 2021 (start of agile development: 1/22)
  • Application in German or English
  • Initial experience in the implementation of interactive XR applications
The application

The application documents should include the following files:

  • A joint letter of motivation of max. 3000 characters (incl. spaces). 
  • The concept of max. 15,000 characters (incl. spaces) including:
    • Introduction to own understanding of embodiment 
    • Explanation of the relevance of embodiment for the planned application
    • Description of the envisaged cultural format
    • at least one visualization (e.g. sketch, model) or a short explanatory video (max. 10 min)
  • Outline of required work packages and responsibilities (who does what in the team?)
  • One short CV with picture per team member 
  • A portfolio of previous relevant work per team member
Further information on the application
  • Applications will only be accepted by e-mail to
  • The deadline for applications is 15.07.2021 at 11 p.m.
  • The decision will be made in mid-August 2021 and the selected team will be notified by email. 
  • In addition to personnel and technical support, unfortunately no payment for the team is possible as things stand.