Perpetuum Mobile Exhibition – Section 09: At the Forefront of Research

Michael Bielicky - Perpetuum Mobile - 09 - At the Forefront of Research - 2020

[0:11] And here we have another grid, a grid of famous people: you can see Jean Baudrillard, Woody Vasulka, Steina Vasulka, Peter Weibel or Vilém Flusser or Czech president Václav Havel and Maxim Biller and Mel Alexenberg and you see all this prominent thinkers, writers, artists, who I met through thirty years. They are having a fictitious dialogue; they are talking to each other even when they have never met in the same time.

[1:02] Here we have two documentations of projects I did during Ars Electronica and both were developed at ZKM. This is a project called The Room With A View for Škoda pavilion, developed 20 years ago together with Jeffrey Shaw at the ZKM and then transferred to Wolfsburg, to the Autostadt themepark. We developed a 360°-interactive environment, with seven worlds representing Czech culture values. This is about literature. The person who enters the 360°-environment of a diameter of twelve meters could interact with those wonderful literature pieces. In another one she or he could interact with paintings and other worlds. And since the person was surrounded by this 360°-environment she or he could look around and experience this wonderful immersive space controlled by this so-called Navigator, which was the interface one could turn around and control different worlds with. This is a world of Czech paintings by Cubist painter Josef Čapek, and also a world of the first abstract painter as well, František Kupka: the user could deconstruct and construct those paintings in real time and could have control over this wonderful universe. This is a wonderful Kupka-painting.

[3:35] I switch here to this other documentation: Intelligent Mailman, Ars Electronica, for the first time using GPS as an artist worldwide. The viewers in 1994 could watch and follow the person who is walking through Linz. It was a very early criticism of surveillance technology. This was more than a quarter of a century ago and is still a very urgent issue.

[4:14] Here we go again, back here to the space of Room With A View, the 360°-environment, where the viewer could interact with wonderful worlds: this is the last one, it is called Eternal Machine and the viewer could experience wonderful fictitious machines, which of course do not exist in reality but in her of his fantasy and could help them travel through wonderful digital worlds. Of course there were references to different filmmakers of the Czech Republic like Karel Zemann, who used exactly this kind of aesthetics in his science fiction movies for children. This is a wonderful space for users to play. Here we have a wonderful shot with a fish eye lens from beneath, to get an idea how it looked overall, to get a feel for the surrounding environment. There will be another project in a second –

[5:42] – meanwhile we look here at a piece called Flashouse, made by Kamila B. Richter and Alex Wenger in Stuttgart on a building as a permanent installation; a light installation which you can from far away, even from landing airplanes from the nearby airport. This light installation on the building reacts to seasons, temperature and other parameters of electricity. It is a permanent project, which was planned to remain installed there for a long term.

[6:34] And I go back: here we are amidst a project documentation we developed at the ZKM twenty years ago, called Delvaux’s Dream. Paul Delvaux was the Belgian surrealist who painted those ladies in space we used to create a highly sophisticated, technologically very complex environment, where the visitor could enter the painting she or he was watching. So this old dream was fulfilled, the dream to be part of the painting watched. It was highly complicated, because of the setup and the required technology and the custom-made programming and engineering; it was a long-term project, at least one year of development here at ZKM and only at the ZKM a project like that was possible at that time. This was the former director of the Institute of Image Media, Jeffrey Shaw, who helped with his know-how and technical support to realize this project. There was a custom made motion-capture system which featured four infrared cameras, which would define the position of the viewer and this was linked to the camera, which was a special motion camera, which was again connected to the model, as you can see, and all this together would create this illusion that you are part of the moving painting watched. But not only part of the painting, the ladies or figures would react, make noises, voices and even move, they interacted with the visitor. It was kind of magic for everybody involved, for old and young as we can see.

[8:44] And we continue: here are a few documentations of early projections of a series we did with Kamila called Falling. We used pictograms for projections, interventions in public space in an anonymous way: we put a projector and a power generator somewhere and threw the projection. This on screen was all in Berlin. 

[9:27] Before we go, we have one more to elaborate on: the Flashouse documentation again, which we will see in a second, here we go: so this is the building, where you can see this wonderful installation, which was a technological challenge to install partly inside and partly outside of the building by Benjamin Breitkopf and Paul Kenig. One can see it from the highway or the airplane from allover the region, a new light sign which can be seen from many kilometers away. Here we have one more shot, Flashouse, which was finally put in an operational mode last year, after a pretty long time. And as you see, it is pretty powerful.