Theatre of Immanence

on Sep 12, 13
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Client: Deutsche Telekom AG Corporate Communication
Location: Portikus Gallery, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Site Area: 150m²
Built Area: 150m²

Year: 2007

Status: Built

Construction Costs: €125.000,00

Credits: Ben van Berkel, Johan Bettum, Luis Etchegorry

Structural Engineers: O.S.D. Harld Kloft and Juergen Scholte-Wassink

Media: MESO Digital Interiors

Website: MESO Web Scapes



Project description

In a year-long project, the Städelschule Online Group has explored the multiple facets of progressive media penetration into all aspects of our life.

The exhibition was planned as an event space with virtual and real events taking place throughout the exhibition period. It would transform Portikus into an interface, a stage or a hub. The basic idea is to set up and offer an infrastructure for ‘public’ use where the macro installation is in relation with artistic and technical “plug-in” components. Portikus is thus transformed into an “urban cerebellum” or “plane of immanence”. The exhibition becomes a theatre-like installation offering itself as an interface to the public for various types of mediated and staged events.

The Theatre of Immanence or The Thing consists of an upper and lower level, with the upper level serving as a concrete framework for communication and the lower level as a kind of exhibition space. What is special about The Thing is its dense array of perforations which cover all surfaces and thus serve to connect the two levels both visually and audibly. These perforations have irregular shapes and sizes, giving them the dual function of serving as openings for acoustic signals as well as for tailored digital projections which are constantly in flux, thus transforming the different spaces into a living, breathing environment. Architecture that is incorporated by media is not static, but dynamic.

From its very inception the project was set up to be multidisciplinary and international in character. Cooperating over a great distance in the spirit of “simultaneous engineering”, the team made use of the numerous options offered by state-of-the-art online communication — all the more so since the Deutsche Telekom branch in Darmstadt was a co-initiator and key sponsor of the project.

As with any large-scale theatre production, there were a number of players: the role of imaginary team leader was fulfilled by two individuals — professor and architectural theorist Sanford Kwinter (Rice University, USA) and artist and Professor Peter Hagdahl (Royal Academy of Arts, Stockholm). Professor Ben van Berkel, Johan Bettum and Luis Etchegorry were responsible for the architecture of The Thing. The Frankfurt-based MESO Group was responsible for the media design. As for the content, another 14 artists and architects from eight different countries were responsible.

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