n o w h e r e is a GameMod, a modification of the Egoshooter Unreal.
Users move freely in all directions of this virtual 3D-space. Architecture, sound, voice-over and images support an immersive effect.
Flying through space and time is a metaphor to reflect the intellectual world of The Crystal Chain, a group of architects and artists founded by Bruno Taut in 1919 to share utopian ideas by way of correspondence.
“I treat Wittgenstein's propositions more like axioms. When I negate the axiom, 'We make ourselves a picture of the world' and say, 'We make ourselves a world from a picture' then I create the whole of Constructivism.”* Heinz von Foerster
Mere depiction was not the aim of our work, nor transferring the two-dimensional sketches, designs and drawings into the third dimension. We rather intended to entice the viewer into a simulation of a historic world of utopian ideas. Thus, in n o w h e r e Wenzel Hablik's outer-space painting Sternenhimmel (Starry Sky, 1909) appears as a dense, sometimes concave, sometimes convex cosmos, situated in an unknown system of suns, of agglomerations of stars, satellites, flying machines and airborne colonies. Some of these celestial bodies are inspired by text fragments from Paul Scheerbart's Glasarchitektur (Glass Architecture), a work by the man of letters who died in 1915 and who influenced the proponents of the Crystal Chain immensely: »Paradise beetles, light fish, orchids, shells, pearls, diamonds and so on—all of this together is the most magnificent on the surface of the earth—and this is all to be found in glass architecture. It is the highest—a pinnacle of culture.« (Glasarchitektur, 1914)
In n o w h e r e a cluster of planets—an interstellar stairway—beams the visitors (the navigating cosmonauts, so to speak) into the space of contemporary architecture—a room full of citations and collages in shining colours.
»Glück ohne Glass – wie dumm ist das!« (Happiness without glass—how dumb is that!), »Was wäre die Konstruktion ohne den Stahlbeton? « (What would construction be without reinforced concrete?), »Ohne einen Glaspalast ist das Leben eine Last!« (Without a crystal palace life is a burden). These hardly translatable examples are citations of the Glashaus Dictum formulated by Paul Scheerbart for the glass house constructed by Bruno Taut for the Werkbundausstellung in Cologne in 1914. In n o w h e r e these text fragments shine through fragmented extracts of contemporary architecture that appear in front of the visitor like dazzling coronas before they fade away again.
A crystal appears; in its faceting the cosmos is reflected entirely. The visitor encounters this crystal in all the segments of n o w h e r e . It is the teleporter, the gate, the wormhole—it links to the cosmos itself from where the journey continues. The crystal as universal metaphor and basic element of nature at the same time was a crucial metaphor for our protagonists: for them, it was pervaded by light, unifying outside and inside, simultaneously form and spirit, an inorganic material growing similarly to a biological organism, a reflection of man to come. In n o w h e r e , the visitor penetrates the crystal, forming a relationship of reciprocal transferences and penetrations of form as well as of meaning. And—as if one was inside a multi-faceted microcosm—the polygons delineating the crystal's inside become an immersive kaleidoscope.
A particular crystalline form is assigned to Wenzel Hablik, Bruno Taut, Wassili Luckhardt, Hermann Finsterlin, Hans Scharoun and other proponents. Like a chain, link after link lines up on invisible threads. They seem to be enclosed in this form that appeared so important to them—like the insect caught up in resin that has become stone. Where they twinkle like inclusions in the light of the stars there are other links and invisible portals. One enters a prismatic lucent cylinder in which mountain panoramas revolve through fog. This place is dedicated to the Alpine Architecture (1917-1918) by Bruno Taut, the spokesman of the Crystal Chain. His drawings seem to become real inside the mountain chains—crystal nests adorn the ice crevasses, chrysocolla, amethyst and bismuth tower upwards like futuristic buildings competing with the mountain tops. The area dedicated to Wassili Luckhardt does not tell of the vastness of the starry sky but of the stronghold of fortress construction. His designs for buildings of worship (around 1920) are external views of crystalline-formed glass architecture that are interpreted as a possible interior view in the virtual architecture n o w h e r e .
The sparkle around Wenzel Hablik's crystal is the transition to his Schöpferische Kräfte (Creative Powers), a series of etchings (1912) that tell of the becoming and being of crystal, of birth and death. The cosmonaut—the visitor—in n o w h e r e is able to discover this and much more as he flies on his freely chosen path through the cosmos of the Crystal Chain.
*Translated from: Heinz von Foerster, in: Teil der Welt, "Zweiter Akt: 'Ich bin Teil der Welt'", page 115, 2002
n o w h e r e 2005, still images
CREDITS: Gerald Nestler: co-author, conception, research, texts. Oliver Irschitz: production, interface design. Christoph Cargnelli: spatial acoustics.
Frédéric Lion, Marcin Glowacki: voice over. commissioned by thecrystalweb°
Venues: 2006: media@terra International Art + Technology Festival, Athens GR, 3rd International Digital Art Festival, Changzhou CN, 11-art.com, Dashanzi Beijing CN, Architekturzentrum, Innsbruck A 2005: Heiligenkreuzerhöfe, Vienna A.