The abscent temple
Mixed Media Installation
site-specific installation for the exhibition
"Fragments of Memory. The Temple of Solomon in the Dresden Zwinger"
scaffolding, white fabric
6 slide projectors and program unit
4 monitors and DVD player
3D model by Claudia Bergmann
Graphics by Karen Weinert
The shown images are installation views, skteches and photographs of the Zwinger courtyard.
Exhibited in the Wallpavillon of Dresden Zwinger, State Art Collections Dresden, 2010
A model reproduces something.
In the present case it reproduces something that is itself a model. A model reproduces something that reproduces something, which is and was contested. Interpretations of the Temple pointed in the past, and point all the more so now, in all directions. The reductionist power of models has, of course, great potential, especially when one manages to direct this power to not only avoid empty spaces. Perhaps one must choose to leave some things absent in order to be able to see other things at all.
What role did the Wallpavillon play as an exhibition space for one of the most important objects in the court collections?
How were objects presented then, and how are they presented now? Hearing a marble roll down the steps of a miniature spiral staircase was seen in the Baroque age as an impressive proof of the level of detail with which the Temple model had been constructed. Even the things that one cannot see directly are a perfect reproduction of the putative, biblical paradigm. What is invisible determines the value of what one can see. Some years ago, a film was produced in Hamburg, that is now shown on a monitor alongside the Temple model in the municipal history museum there. With the help of a tiny camera, the interior colonnades and even the Holy of Holies (the place in which the Ark of the Covenant once stood) within the model were filmed. These regions are actually not visible to the museum visitor today. Slowly and deliberately the camera moves through the model, and its wide-angle lens conveys a floating and surreal impression. Seeing such interior details alters the value of the object displayed next to the screen. The image on the monitor leaves behind less space for curiosity, as it appears "prettier" and livelier than the model itself.
A particularity of the digital is its absence. In order to represent complex spatial constructions using a graphics board, a computer program decomposes forms into polygons and polygons into lines and points. The finer the level of detail, the more realistic the calculated image appears. The digital data used to build a 3D version of the Temple model (done by Claudia Bergmann at the TU Dresden), offer an interesting source; one can use them to highlight the symmetry present in biblical descriptions of the Temple while at the same time making visible the structural elements of the digital tools used by the "contemporary" modelmaker.
In the installation six slide projectors each show, in a cycle of 20 minutes, 80 slides of details of the digital Temple model's facade, its polygonal components, or parts of so-called surface mappings. Changing their images at various rates, the projectors create a composition and produce at the same time a typical clicking rhythm. This sound picks up the
Baroque represenational idea of the rolling marble and creates a bridge to the fragments of the Temple model on display in the New Green Vault, where one of the extant spiral staircases from the Hamburg model is to be shown, accompanied by the recorded sound of a marble rolling down its miniature steps. The experience of the model is thus augmented by an aural element.
The basis for the projections is a scaffolding tower covered in half-transparent white fabric that rises some 8 m high almost to the ceiling of the Wallpavillon, obscuring one of its chandeliers. Behind the fabric screen is the clicking, hot image-producing machinery projecting the slides on various sides of the tower. The points of light emanating from the projector lenses and as well the scaffolding itself are visible through the fabric and convey a sense of the tower's interior outside - as seeing the restaurator's work repeating endlessly.
To conclude, four monitors take place next to the tower: Looped videos run on these monitors, all of which relate to the Baroque architectural model of the Temple, the forms of its representation, and its absence. In one video the visitor sees fragmented and extreme zooms into recent photos of former stations of the modell. The second video shows the current presentation of the model along with its visitors in the Museum fuer Hamburger Geschichte, seen from a fixed perspective, as in a Web camera. A slow progression through the interior spaces of the model is shown on the third monitor, based on an earlier film. The fourth monitor expands these purely visual approaches by presenting a series of interviews with theorists (f.ex.: Kai Voeckler, "The absence of architecture", 2010).