Visionary Concepts in Real and Virtual Spaces
Four different project ideas by Herbert W. Franke which could not be realized.
Project idea 1987: performance with controllable gas fountains
Gases are pressed out of a system of nozzles and made to burn. The positions of the nozzles can be adjusted interactively or under program control, chemicals can be added in the same way to change the colors, and the pressure can also be adjusted so that you can switch between a calm flow and chaotic turbulence. The flow can be combined with music or controlled by sound. This results in a presentation that is reminiscent of a firework display, but unlike one that runs continuously and allows a planned sequence of settings. It is also a demonstration of the transition from order to chaos. The basic technical feasibility was confirmed by experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Flow Research. Herbert W. Franke submitted it as a project proposal to ars electronica – together with the head of the chemistry department at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, who gave numerous “magic demonstrations” at public events in the 1960s and 1980s. However, the idea was not pursued further by ars electronica due to safety concerns.
Project idea 1992: teleballet proximity/distance
The teleballet is a further development of the “digital ballet” of Hommage à E.M. from 1989: the movement of the dancers is recorded on two stages connected via telecommunications, each with a video camera, the image information is processed individually on site and then merged together in real time. This image is then projected onto both stages. The difference lies in the fact that there are now two (or more) dancers who perform separately from each other – for example on the stages of two different cities. The video recordings are superimposed on each other in a central image, so the people can be seen in the projection in a virtual pas de deux or more of them also dancing together. The choreography is designed to incorporate actions that are impossible in real space, such as the dancers interpenetrating each other. The proposed theme of the performance is a ballet of proximity/distance, in which people are visually and acoustically connected to each other via telecommunications, but are unable to establish any real proximity. The realization of a “teleballet” requires powerful transmission channels, a technology that will become available with the introduction of pay TV and image networks.
Projecz idea 1997: pseudo-perspective light object
In a long straight corridor, small lamps are arranged in such a way that they form more or less regular patterns of light points as they pass by, but from a certain point of view at one end of the corridor, a coherent configuration can be recognized. The image visible in this way detaches itself from the perspective context and appears to belong to an irrational space – an effect that, in its own way, has an astonishing aesthetic effect on the visitor. The prerequisite for this appearance is a precise arrangement of the luminaires according to the aspects of perspective. Irrespective of this, the distribution of the lamps on the walls creates interesting patterns that can be observed as you walk through. The shadowless light they emit can also be incorporated into the corridor lighting or replace it. If the lamps are lit according to a specific program, it is also possible to change the pseudo-perspective figures.
Project idea 2000: Crypto Aestetics
The idea concerns a live performance in which data from the micro and macro world, which has so far eluded interpretation, is converted into image sequences in an artistic and creative way and presented with live music. Suitable examples include wave pulses that are captured by radar telescopes and scanned for signs of intelligent extrasterrestrial life (SETI programme), or DNA sequences whose significance for the structure of protein molecules is the aim of a globally organized search (Folderol programme). The creative moment is a program that is conceived beforehand in a series of experiments with a view to design formation processes, so that aesthetically interesting orders emerge from the seemingly chaotic data. Although it is not to be expected that a message from extraterrestrials will suddenly appear on the screen, the resulting patterns could well have a meaning as yet unknown to us – a kind of anticipation of the intended scientific analysis. In a particularly impressive staging, the data could first appear unprocessed (i.e. seemingly disordered) on the projection screen, after which the transition to recognizable patterns is gradually intensified. The realization should not be limited to the visual, but should also include tonal elements.