Hybrid Layers

Cover in form of a cell phone display, purple color gradient, white font.
Type of publication
Exhibition brochure
Publishing house, place
ZKM⎪Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe

The exhibition »Hybrid Layers« focuses attention on a generation of artists who are engaging with the growing presence of the digital sphere and its effects on society. The exhibition shows new perspectives on digital technologies, the Internet and social networks, probing both virtual and physical manifestations of an artistic practice that is fundamentally influenced by the digital realm. 

The pieces presented in the exhibition address current social, technological and aesthetic debates, and reflect on how comprehensively the digital realm influences every area of our daily life, our perception and our production of knowledge. The mediums of digital, algorithmic imaging and communication systems have now transformed all aspects of our world. Current research in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) already shows us a glimpse of what fundamental changes technological progress will bring to our lives in the future. Through their installations, videos, performances and sculptures, the artists in this exhibition respond to this hybrid interfusing of the real and the digital and scrutinize how this situation influences our globally networked world.

»Hybrid Layers« thus explores the many aspects of what can be described as the digital turn or the “digital era”, which, since its emergence less than twenty years ago when the volume of digitally stored information surpassed that of analogue information for the first time, has swiftly altered our thinking, actions and feelings. In the exhibition, the digital is the key, the “a priori”, to the disparate cultural and conceptual scenarios that are shown in the individual works. Dealing freely with the imagery of the Internet and recontextualizing and resemanticizing the narrative strands taken from it in non-hierarchical, often-subjective arrangements, the exhibition evinces the embedding of artistic methods in digitally influenced patterns of perception. While media art was long focused on translating the analogue world into the digital, artists today increasing grapple with how the digital can be translated into the analogue world through the use of synthetic materials or innovative printing processes. The various perspectives on the digital that can be taken from the 22 artists represented in the exhibition are thus informed by a fundamental interest in exploring the hybrid layers of digital and physical realities in their multifaceted characteristics in a way that is dispassionate, expectant and critical. 

Since its founding, the ZKM | Karlsruhe has engaged with current developments in media art. In many exhibitions, it has described the influence of current technology on people and on the production of art. »Hybrid Layers« stands in the tradition of these exhibitions, while also pointing ahead to the large-scale exhibition project Open Codes. Living in Digital Worlds, through which the ZKM will once more devote its attention to the topic of digitalization and the apprehension of the world through digital code beginning in autumn 2017.

76 pp., ill., brochure
Organization / Institution
ZKM⎪Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe



Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst ; Stadt Karlsruhe ; Kulturstiftung des Bundes ; Innovationsfonds Kunst Baden-Württemberg


Editorial team: Giulia Bini, Sabiha Keyif, Philipp Ziegler

Copy editing: Gloria Custance (E), Greta Garle, Sabiha Keyif, Bettina Korintenberg (D)

Translations: D→E Jane Yager ; Translations: E→D Bernd Weiß

Graphic design: 2xGoldstein+Fronczek

Key topics