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Jeffrey Shaw «Place-Ruhr» | Villa Hügel. Essen
Jeffrey Shaw, «Place-Ruhr», 2000
Villa Hügel. Essen | © Jeffrey Shaw
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«Villa Hügel was built from 1870–1872 as the Krupp family residence according to plans by Alfred Krupp. Until 1945, it served several generations of the Krupp family–later Krupp von bohlen und Halbach– as a domicile and venue for official functions. During this time, it underwent many alterations. ALfred Krupp also planned and laid out the surrounding parks and woods from 1870 on. The Villa remained largely undamaged, and after 1945 was at first used by the Allies as the headquarters of the ‹Coal Control Commission.› Later it was put into service as a museum and is, among other things, the headquarters of the Alfred-Krupp-von-Bohlen-und-Halbach Foundation. The Krupp logo flutters on a flagpole in front of the building, while two black sphinxes guard its rear entrance.» (quoted from: Jeffrey Shaw/Peter Weibel (eds), Future Cinema. The cinematic Imaginary after Film, exhib. cat., Cambridge, MA/London, 2003, p. 386.)

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interactive computer-graphic video installation, circular screen, rotating platform, 1 projector, custom user interface | Sound: Torsten Belschner (sound design) | Software: Adolf Mathias, Andreas Kiel | Hardware: Huib Nelissen | Computergraphic/video installation

 Jeffrey Shaw

In this work the viewer can explore a three dimensional virtual environment that is constituted by an emblematic constellation of panoramic locations and events. The installation is physically constituted by a rotating platform that allows the viewer to interactively rotate a projected image within a large circular projection screen. It presents a virtual landscape containing eleven photographic cylinders that actualize particular sites in the Ruhr area. The viewer can navigate this three-dimensional space and enter these panoramic cylinders. Once inside the represented imagery becomes a surrounding cinematic performance which fills the projection screen and presents a pre-recorded situation as an immersive event.
The identity of each of the eleven sites is defined by its environmental scenography, both real and artificial, which are conjoined with a time-based occurence that has been staged there. These events are approximately one minute in duration and repeat themselves continuously in loops. Similarly, the landscaped architecture of eleven cylinders repeats itself infinitely in all directions. The overall ground surface of this landscape is inscribed with a diagram of the cabalistic ëTree of Lifeí, and the eleven Ruhr site cylinders are situated in a figurative relation to this diagram which is coupled to a map of existing underground mining tunnels in the Dortmund area.
On the platform there is a column with an underwater video camera. This device is the interactive user interface; its buttons and handling allow the viewer to control his movement through the virtual scene as well as cause the rotation of the platform and of the projected image around the circular screen. A small monitor within this housing also shows the ground plan of the virtual environment in relation to the user's location there.
A microphone on top of this interface camera picks up any sound that the viewer makes, and this causes the release of continuously moving three dimensional words and sentences within the projected scene. Originating in the center of the screen, the physical arrangement of these texts in the virtual environment is determined by the path of the viewer movements while they are being generated. These texts have a temporal five-minute duration; becoming more and more transparent until they disappear they constitute a trace and transitory memory of the viewerís presence there.
This work is dedicated to the Ruhr valley - to the past present and future transmutation of a geographical and geological patrimony into a profound arena of human exigency.


ZKM/Future Cinema