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Statements concerning spacework * urbanwork, 1998

About architecture:
  As a teenager, I was completely put off by Bauhaus architecture. I found it to be solely a formal, functional aesthetic. I was very doubtful about this type of architecture because it seemed to have no content. Our school was also a post-Bauhaus construction with the obligatory color guidance system. It always gave me claustrophobia. I much preferred the kind of industrial buildings my father designed because they were developed from the engineer's perspective and because real production took place in them. There was a clear reason for these buildings: the installation of the real working world.
  In my sculptural work, I have always been interested in taking over and defining spaces as I experience them. I do this by reducing space to a two-dimensional area which I then transform into a spatial body through sculptural forms. I don't create sculpture by modeling but by studying specific places, their functions, and the movement which takes place in them. I research these places quite thoroughly - it's almost like field research! When the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich held an art competition in 1997 for its new Institute for Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Grosshadern, I sat down at the computer and researched how pharmaceutical chemists develop models of new medicines.
About space:
  Sure. Even when I open up a tree trunk to expose its growth rings - like I did in 1988 with my work Familienpanzer - my primary concern was investigating the "inner space." This is why the confrontation with ceramics was so important for me, i.e. one is working with hollow bodies. During the first few years of my studies, I worked almost exclusively in the shop and created many 1:1 works. I didn't make models, but had to try the gravity of real sculptures - despite the physical problems this presents - in order to know if my ideas would work out at all in spaces like rooms.
  After thirteen years of working primarily on projects for indoor spaces, I am finally starting to deal with outdoor projects. Today, that's a major step - if one doesn't want to just do "helicopter dropping," which simply "furnishes" free outdoor spaces with sculpture.
About "Kunst-Am-Bau" (art at construction sites):
  I think that generally, autonomous sculpture is dead. In Europe today, we live in such a complex system that it is arrogant place autonomous sculptures in our dense cultural spaces. They should be put on Mars! I think sculptors today must deal with the environment intensively and seriously consider how the remaining public spaces can be used suitably for humans. In the seventies, artists who were still studying often specialized on making little models and then having them enlarged by the casters. And suddenly, big sculptures were in the world. In my travels through many cities, I have often seen that even impressive sculptures in the wrong environment can get bogged down and neglected. This is why I am very careful with what I do even in the early stages of production.
About material:
  The success or failure of a structure depends entirely on whether it enters a symbiosis with the material it's made of. I highly value colleagues and architects who know their materials. Materiality itself already has a certain power of expression and transports an idea. There's a reason, after all, that for us - in contrast to the USA, Belgium, or Spain - there is still such a strong taboo attached to terracotta.
About Vienna College of Applied Arts:
  If you have an idea for a particular space, you should simultaneously try to potentiate this process using the material. In Vienna, we had a very good workshop and a shopmaster who showed us how to use all the machines. The second important thing was the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum: the master class system was relatively open, and it allowed us to become acquainted with nearly everything, up to the Weibel media laboratory.
About ecology:
  My works do imply a certain position on actual issues which affect me. In the Havarie project (1993) I found it horrifying - but also fascinating - that in our highly technological world, a single-shell tanker could even be built, and then loaded improperly so that it just burst in the end simply due to thoughtless economizing measures. I wanted to represent the incredible shifting of forces inside the chambers of the ship's hull by dismembering a huge plaster form - which in and of itself is not a particularly ecological material. In the end, I ended up with a Schwitters-like construction whose alabaster outer surface was completely amorphous and whose insides were very structured.
About perspectives:
  It's very important to me that a sculpture "function" from all possible angles and is "alive" on many different levels. This is why I often use CAD to plan larger room concepts. CAD animations let me look at the sculpture from all places in a room. This simulation technology also lets me show others how a form develops from different angles. With my smaller works for inside rooms, I work using human sizes, i.e. I imagine people sitting on the floor whose eye level gives them a 1.45 m high horizon. Outside sculptures created during the baroque were made to be at the right perspective from a horse-drawn carriage. Today, we assume that the viewer is at the height of a car driver.
Abuot a new marking system for bicycle paths, so-called motion-lines:

That was an attempt to structure public space in an area I feel especially competent in. I wanted to replace the conventional pictogram of the tipped over bicycle rider with a series of repeating characters on a sinus wave. The character, created from a circle and an ellipse, was supposed to make the bicycle rider's own movement - as well as the rotation of the wheel - clear.

About biology:
  I have become interested in biology because of its relationship to city development and due to the discourse on how cities can be defined in the future. Bionic principles often arise in debates on the complexity of the urban context. That means that a certain amount of knowledge on self-organizing structures can be derived from observing microorganisms. Diatoms, for example, are tiny one-celled plants encased in silicate armor. The genetic code behind their incredibly diverse structures, as well as the complex static webs these organisms create, is absolutely unknown.
About Diatoms:
  Haeckel saw diatoms through a very strong microscope. Since the invention of the raster electron microscope at the end of the sixties, it is also possible to photograph and reproduce the fantastic forms which can be seen with it. The fascinating thing is that the viewer can now penetrate the infinite structural system of the diatoms, which constantly take on new aesthetic forms under high magnification. Contrary to Mandelbrot fractals, for which there is no scale of measurement because the transformations take place outside of our categories. I got interested in bionics and silicate chemistry when I started learning about the structure of the computer.
About two- and three-dimensional spaces:
  I push the individual rings of a wooden surface up to create a plastic form. I first got the idea for my contours from working with large pieces of wood. The model-like spatial forms of these sculptures, which have dimensions of circa 1.5 by 1.5 meters, are elementary because they allow me to think with my hands. Generally speaking, when I create a space, it's not an analytic process. Rather, when I make my first sketch, I already know the significance I want to give a particular location. Mostly I concentrate on a circular form I want to open up. Then, I immediately start building a model which I hang in the room on very thin threads. Interestingly enough, my feeling for statics is still good at up to 14 tons!
About intuition:
  I wondered about this myself at first. Even before I've simulated a sculpture, I walk around the imaginary form in my dreams, so to speak, to get a feeling for how the individual elements relate to each other in terms of the forces involved, and to see how the work will actually look. That is reassuring, but sad somehow, because I no longer have the "aha" experience when the sculpture is finished. The sensation is actually the experiment, and then I start working to realize the work with extreme discipline - a process which still needs a lot of moderation. Everyone involved in making a large work must be precisely informed on its content and technology in order to guarantee its optimal execution.
About circles:
  The circle forms a center in its own manner, without centering. The circle carries its own limitations within it. One uses it to reduce the outer form of a basic shape to a minimum, thus steering the viewer's eye to what's important.
About deconstructionist architecture:
  Purely functional construction will certainly continue to exist. At a lecture by Frank Gehry in Los Angeles, it occurred to me for the first time that deconstructionist architecture defines itself exclusively as "construction art," and that there is hardly any communication with applied artists. If an artistic intervention were to take place, conflicts could easily arise. Architecture like the new museum in Bilbao is fascinating to me as a sculpture. Deconstructionist architecture may be too new for the applied arts - there are still so many undiscovered resources.
About emptiness:
  I am sure that the places I deal with need my interventions. I have absolutely no fear of empty rooms or walls. In the 27-meter high inner courtyard of the Red Cross Hospital in Munich there was an unbelievable downward suction. I think that my work Kreuzblume was actually able to reverse this force and change the feeling of the room.
About soaring:
  My desire to intervene in rooms is founded upon the fact that I always try to bridge the gap between human dimensions and the speed of technology. Dealing with objects virtually frees up a completely different category of thinking than manual work with tools. The virtuality we experience during REM phases of sleep, for example, when we reassociate daily events completely chaotically - composing new films, so to speak - is completely determined by us, as opposed to the virtual world of the computer.
  During the REM sleep phase it is possible to influence the course of a dream. The computer, however, just eats up our time. In virtual rooms and when I use new media, I am moving in other spheres.
About new worlds:
  An art historian once told me that my newer sculptures remind her of the Archigram ideas of the late sixties. At that time, artists discussed the question whether a room is an extension of the body and how new worlds can be created architecturally. Think about the module systems popular then, which had something hybrid about them.
  During that time, people were very much the focal point of art, which concentrated greatly on interaction. These ideas are current again because instead of the market, experimentation was important. In discussions on the current media world, it's important to redefine various forms and qualities of room and space, and ask questions like what kind of room construction is possible? What still needs to be materialized? In what situations is a purely virtual representation sufficient? What advantages does the tactile sense have over the visual or aural senses? Material things have a great significance for me. The things in a person's environment inevitably shape his or her life.
About public space:
  I think that designing places to fulfill a purpose requires complex cooperation by interdisciplinary specialists. Humanities scholars should work together with sculptors, traffic planners, psychologists, and sociologists. I can easily imagine a dialog of extreme positions, that is, physically experiential moments in contact with interactive ones. I am sure that personal exchange will again play an important role in the future.
  Without sculptures made for a specific place, an extremely important dimension of experience would be lost. Especially those artist who flirt with virtual dematerialization are the ones who often have a strong desire to produce works 1:1.
About "where" and "when":
  Many places in the world will certainly begin to resemble each other more and more, due to the extreme degree of information exchange. I don't just mean artificial environments like Disneyworld - experiences in all industrialized countries are becoming more and more alike. The supposed nomads are always looking for familiar rooms in the hotel chains and living quarters they frequent. A confrontation with a specific place as a topos, in contrast, requires that one perceives this specific place with all senses, thus countering the global trend towards sameness.
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