Berliner Fenster

Publié le par Gabo

Prix spécial du jury pour le projet "Berliner Fenster", réalisé dans le cadre du concours 2007 du DAAD. La thématique du concours se basait sur une cittation de Goethe :

»Nothing can be compared with the new
life that the discovery of a new country
gives to a thoughtful mind. Although I am
still the same person, I feel that I am in
fact changed to the core.«

Berliner Fenster

envoyé par dubitatif

In this, the City of Juxtaposition, I am not pointing out another. Instead I am offering a method, a mental map, a way to document my experience in the city, and I hope it is one that will lead to a better understanding of Berlin. The key to successful and sustainable urban environments is positive social interaction. The more that people are observant and critical of their surroundings the more they will have to add when these interactions take place.

The film makes use of its inherent format, that of the moving picture, to reinforce the idea that windows are typically viewed from a moving
perspective. By shifting the emphasis away from the goal of getting somewhere and re-focusing this moving gaze instead on the idea of "the window", I am simply utilizing the existing method of perception to come to a different understanding.
Similarly, the still photographs of the walls echo the moment's pause that is required to look at an advertisement, or to notice that the wall is in fact a blank "façade". By extending this moment I hope to provide a fuller understanding of how and what these walls are and do.

The short captions of text provide insight into my thought process as I were gathering footage, exploring the city, and locating moments of pause. The project is meant to provide a frame of reference for my relationship with the city over the past 6 months. It is in many ways abstract, yet the subject's familiarity and precise method of description make the project at the same time quite concrete.
The goal of the project is to spark critical discussion through examining seemingly banal pieces of daily life.


Berliner Fenster_

Berlin is a city in a rare state of exposure. Its fabric has been chopped and cut by countless idealists, planners, politicians, engineers and architects. The results are stunning. Little is left of the typical homogeneity so rigorously produced in other European capital cities towards the end of monarchic period. Disfigured and eclectic, Berlin yields itself to its inhabitants through a complex intertwining of rational order, perceptual chaos and traditional values.

"Windows today go very much unnoticed."

As people move through the city the constant repetition and regularity of the windows on the facades of the buildings does little to engage the imagination. These patterns of transparency are little more than a backdrop against which people go about their business. Glass, especially since glass construction became prevalent during the Industrial Revolution, has provided the visibility
and isolation required for remote voyeuristic viewing. Windows are a one way street. When a person is inside and looking out through a window they feel protected, as though they are watching the world outside go by with out the slightest worry that they can be seen. It is a private experience, a comfortable indulgence into the world of spectating.

A similar experience occurs on the street. It is common polite practice to respect other people's ?right"  to personal silence in public places. One such place is the street. They put on headphones as a layer of armor and retract into fortified ?public" versions of themselves. The single vulnerability is one of visibility. People know that they can be seen and take pleasure in the watching of others.
It is quite ironic then, that people pay little or no attention to windows.

The windowed façade is a vital piece of the city. It should be celebrated, noticed, cherished and interacted with, not relegated to the realm of the ignored. By noticing the subtle differences between windows, looking at their shapes and colors, paying attention to how each reflects and captures light, even noting their physical orientation are all small observations that if made can add much
to an inhabitant's awareness of his or her surroundings.
The Renaissance held the human body to be the ultimate expression of beauty. The proportions of the body were religiously articulated into the form and detailing of buildings as if through this personification the building would be literally imbued with life. The facades were the buildings' faces and the windows the observant eyes.

A common expression holds that the eyes are the body's windows to the soul. If we look into the soul of the city's buildings what will we find?

"What would the city look like without windows?"

A wall with no windows holds promise. It speaks of things yet to come, and is therefore intrinsically optimistic in its anticipation of the next building. It however also speaks of decimation. In a line of connected houses a blank wall means that something is missing, as if a link in the chain has been destroyed.
Berlin's plethora of window-less walls comes as a shock to no-one. They are most often viewed as the result of the mass destruction that occurred during the Second World War. What is less considered, however, is their role in the urban fabric. These monoliths rise triumphantly from the city's districts indiscriminately.
They mark the places where buildings once stood and where they may one day stand again. They are the literal cuts that allow a viewing of the inner anatomy of the city and laid bare is a network of left-over, unplanned spaces that become activated by these stoic walls. They have become a new sort of façade, one that was never intended to be.

Interior walls are very often windowless. They are used to define rooms and to provide points of orientation and our perception of walls without windows has been formed through this interior relationship. Therefore when confronted with such a wall at the scale of an entire building it is perceptually ominous, disruptive and strange. This very perceptual inertia makes them protagonists.
These walls beg to put to use, their surfaces palimpsests that bear witness to their engaging effect on the city's inhabitant. The spaces created by them beg to be explored, taken over and re-appropriated. Windowless walls are not the inverse condition to a window filled façade but instead are a necessary and powerful compliment.

Berlin Fenster_
The film and photos should be shown side by side on a blank wall. The film should be on repeated loop and will need speakers. It is important that people be able to walk up to the photos and film and that the projection be able to project onto them. In this way the two pieces are presented much like the traditional double window in Berlin yet are at the same time are nothing but a projection on a blank wall.

Film Berliner Fenster_
4 minutes
should be projected the same
size as the photo colelction.

36 photos @ 20 x 20 cm

captions should be applied
under the film and photos

Publié dans Dubitatif

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