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Virtual Reality (VR) Bridging The Gap Between Art And Technology


THE VOICE OF EU – Visitors to the temporary exhibition hall of the Dutch Mauritshuis gallery are greeted by bare, pink-lined walls, setting the stage for a unique blend of art and technology. The centerpiece? Vermeer’s iconic “Girl with a Pearl Earring” accompanied by a virtual reality (VR) experience. In the adjacent room, replicas of the looted Benin Bronzes from Nigeria stand as poignant reminders of colonial history.

Among these artifacts, a sculpted horse’s head, the last vestige of the original Brandenburg Gate chariot, carries the weight of World War II’s destruction. This exhibition, “Roofkunst – 10 verhalen [Loot – 10 stories]” in collaboration with the Berlin Humboldt Forum, not only showcases stolen art but invites contemplation on restitution using digital media.

The VR experience offers a breathtaking view from the top of the Brandenburg Gate, providing a historical context for the looted artifacts. This monument, once a symbol of Prussian triumph, became entangled with Napoleon’s conquests and later, the emblem of Nazi dictatorship. The surviving horse’s head, displayed prominently, serves as a tangible link to a tumultuous past.

Kel O’Neill, the guest curator, underscores the challenge of transitioning from the original artifact to a VR experience. Eline Jongsma, O’Neill’s partner, emphasizes the value of original art, which transcends various representations.

The exhibition aims to provoke thoughts on the future of museums, where returned art might coexist digitally alongside physical pieces.


Silver tableware stolen from Jews by the Nazis now exhibited in the exhibition ‘Loot – 10 Stories’ at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague (Netherlands).

Context and international collaboration are paramount in an exhibition focused on stolen art. Martine Gosselink, the director of the Mauritshuis, emphasizes the need for collaboration, given the complex journeys these objects have taken.

An example is a Surinamese cane now displayed in Berlin’s Ethnologische Museum, highlighting the global dimensions of looted art.

The exhibition delves into specific stories from three historical periods: colonialism, the French Revolution, and Nazi looting. The narrative surrounding Rembrandt’s self-portrait, for instance, unravels a journey from German Jewish ownership to Nazi plundering and eventual restitution to the Rathenau family. This painting, now housed in the Mauritshuis, epitomizes a larger story of resilience and recovery.

The Benin Bronzes, represented by replicas and molds, spark a conversation on the value of originals versus reproductions.

The return of these bronzes to Nigeria in 2022 raises questions about the rights to reproduce such works. The exhibition presents Dutch paintings, now in Paris, which were seized by the French in the 18th century, underscoring the intricate webs of art theft.


Casts of the Benin Bronzes, religious and royal sculptures from Benin (modern Nigeria) are displayed in the exhibition ‘Loot – 10 stories’ in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The Mauritshuis takes a nuanced approach to art reclamation, considering factors like historical context, diplomatic implications, and cultural significance. The gallery’s decision not to seek the return of certain works reflects a commitment to preserving the integrity of art and acknowledging complexities surrounding ownership.

Jongsma and O’Neill, in unison, emphasize that this exhibition is not about drawing parallels but rather fostering dialogue.

By exploring the narratives of stolen art, the Mauritshuis contributes to an ongoing global conversation about heritage, justice, and cultural diplomacy.


Alongside the Berlin Humboldt Forum, this exhibition sets a precedent for future collaborations in the realm of art and technology.

Scheduled to open in Berlin in 2024, it promises to continue pushing boundaries in the discourse on art restitution.

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— By JOHNATHAN ELF, science & technology contributor THE VOICE OF EU

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The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

A faded felt bicorne hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $2.1 million at an auction on of the French emperor’s belongings.

Yes, that’s $2.1 million!!

The signature broad, black hat, one of a handful still in existence that Napoleon wore when he ruled 19th-century France and waged war in Europe, was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($650,000-870,000). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction collected by a French industrialist who died last year.

The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

But the bidding quickly jumped higher and higher until Jean Pierre Osenat, president of the Osenat auction house, designated the winner.

‘’We are at 1.5 million (Euros) for Napoleon’s hat … for this major symbol of the Napoleonic epoch,” he said, as applause rang out in the auction hall. The buyer, whose identity was not released, must pay 28.8% in commissions according to Osenat, bringing the overall cost to 1.9 million euros ($2.1 million).

While other officers customarily wore their bicorne hats with the wings facing front to back, Napoleon wore his with the ends pointing toward his shoulders. The style, known as “en bataille,” or in battle, made it easier for his troops to spot their leader in combat.

The hat on sale was first recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoleon, according to the auctioneers. The hat then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.

The entrepreneur spent more than a half-century assembling his collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords and coins before his death in 2022.

The sale came days before the release of Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix, which is rekindling interest in the controversial French ruler.

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The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

THE VOICE OF EU | Widespread concerns have surged among artists and creatives in various domains – country singers, authors, television showrunners, and musicians – voicing apprehension about the disruptive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on their professions.

These worries have prompted an urgent plea to the U.S. government for regulatory action to protect their livelihoods from the encroaching threat posed by AI technology.

The Artists’ Plea

A notable rise in appeals to regulate AI has emerged, drawing attention to the potential risks AI poses to creative industries.

Thousands of letters, including those from renowned personalities like Justine Bateman and Lilla Zuckerman, underscore the peril AI models represent to the traditional structure of entertainment businesses.

The alarm extends to the music industry, expressed by acclaimed songwriter Marc Beeson, highlighting AI’s potential to both enhance and jeopardize an essential facet of American artistry.

The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

Copyright Infringement Concerns

The primary contention arises from the unsanctioned use of copyrighted human works as fodder to train AI systems. The concerns about AI ingesting content from the internet without permission or compensation have sparked significant distress among artists and their representative entities.

While copyright laws explicitly protect works of human authorship, the influx of AI-generated content questions the boundaries of human contribution and authorship in an AI-influenced creative process.

The Fair Use Debate

Leading technology entities like Google, Microsoft, and Meta Platforms argue that their utilization of copyrighted materials in AI training aligns with the “fair use” doctrine—a limited use of copyrighted material for transformative purposes.

They claim that AI training isn’t aimed at reproducing individual works but rather discerning patterns across a vast corpus of content, citing precedents like Google’s legal victories in the digitization of books.

The Conflict and Seeking Resolution

Despite court rulings favoring tech companies in interpreting copyright laws regarding AI, voices like Heidi Bond, a former law professor and author, critique this comparison, emphasizing that AI developers often obtain content through unauthorized means.

Shira Perlmutter, the U.S. Register of Copyrights, acknowledges the Copyright Office’s pivotal role in navigating this complex landscape and determining the legitimacy of the fair use defense in the AI context.

The Road Ahead

The outpouring of concern from creative professionals and industry stakeholders emphasizes the urgency for regulatory frameworks to safeguard creative works while acknowledging the evolving role of AI in content creation.

The Copyright Office’s meticulous review of over 9,700 public comments seeks to strike a balance between innovation and the protection of creative rights in an AI-driven era. As the discussion continues, the convergence of legal precedents and ethical considerations remains a focal point for shaping the future landscape of AI in creative industries.

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— By Darren Wilson, Team

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Germany’s Real Estate Market Is Heading Towards Stagnation and Potential Reversal

By Cindy Porter

In a landscape marked by evolving economic forces, Germany’s real estate sector has recently grappled with formidable challenges. Over the past year, surging interest rates, cautious lending practices, and soaring inflation have prompted prospective buyers to reconsider homeownership, contributing to a resurgence of interest in the rental market. This shift has led some to speculate that the era of booming real estate growth might be waning.

However, amid these headwinds, whispers of a potential reversal of fortunes have started to circulate. Despite another interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB), German property prices demonstrated unexpected resilience in the second quarter of 2023, stagnating rather than declining.

Notably, sales prices for flats exhibited only a marginal decline of 0.3% from April to June, as per the Greix real estate price index published by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). In contrast, prices for detached and semi-detached homes surged by 2.3% and 1.8%, respectively.

“The German real estate market showed itself to be quite robust in the second quarter,” remarked IfW President Moritz Schularick. He highlighted the positive impact of the expectation that the ECB’s interest rate hikes may be tapering off, following significant price corrections in preceding months.

EY, in a recent study, offered a more optimistic projection for the construction sector, anticipating a rebound from months of turmoil in 2024. Despite challenges stemming from rising material costs, supply bottlenecks, and expensive credit, EY’s analysis suggests that the industry will find equilibrium as inflation recedes and policy interventions strive to meet housing construction targets. Consequently, construction prices, historically volatile, are expected to normalize, potentially setting the stage for a stabilization of construction volume.


In terms of property prices in the long run, a joint study by Postbank and the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) predicts a mixed outlook for the German housing market. Approximately half of the surveyed districts and cities, comprising 400 regions, are anticipated to experience around a two percent decline in real terms by 2035. Conversely, 43% of districts are projected to witness price increases.

Leading the pack in rising real estate prices is Potsdam, situated on the outskirts of Berlin in Brandenburg. The city’s property prices could soar by up to 2.71% annually by 2035, making it a growth frontrunner. Erding, near Munich, follows closely with projected annual growth of around 2.13%, while Leipzig in Saxony and Frankfurt am Main are also expected to experience healthy growth.

The map below offers insights into the projected property price development in Germany until 2035

All of the remaining top 10 – including Landshut, Munich and Augsburg – were all located in Bavaria.

The so-called ‘big seven’ cities are also poised for positive price trajectories. While Hamburg is predicted to experience the lowest growth at 0.29% per year, Munich is forecasted to lead the pack with an impressive 2.08% growth rate. Berlin is expected to achieve healthy growth at 1.24% per year.

Conversely, the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) analysis suggests that properties in regions with inadequate infrastructure and declining populations, particularly in the eastern states, could witness value depreciation over the next decade. This scenario is likely to manifest in numerous areas across Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Saarland.

Rural regions in eastern Germany, disconnected from major cities and outside the Berlin commuter belt, face the possibility of significant price declines, ranging from 1.5% to 4.3% annually.

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By Cindy Porter|THE VOICE OF EU🇪🇺

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