Boulevard of Stars | 2010

Berlin has a long history as one of Germany’s core film and television locations, a history characterized by many caesuras, by stories of escape and exile, as well as abuse of the medium for the purposes of propaganda. Given the circumstances, what better place to honor the brightest figures then in this city.
The boulevard of stars is located on the centre strip of Potsdamer Strasse, a scrap of inner city wasteland which, despite its high-profile location, had not been assigned any particular function in terms of urban development. This 320-meter space is now a promenade for the city’s residents and tourists to celebrate the leading figures of the german film industry.
The design of the boulevard does not confine itself to an imitation of world famous precedents like the hollywood walk of fame, but strives to go above and beyond this commemoration cult by putting the emphasis on interaction between the visitors and the celebrities. The boulevard is all about the moment when fans get closest to their idols: the red carpet parade when the stars of the silver screen meet the public and the press.

The concept aims to make this moment a permanent feature of the urban environment. The boulevard of stars thus features the four essential elements of the parade: the red carpet, the stars, the cameras and the spotlights.
A red coating on the asphalt, reminiscent of carpet fiber due to it's finely granulated structure, distinguishes the promenade in the middle of Potsdamer Strasse. at both ends of the strip and in the middle of the boulevard, the carpet folds up to make way for canvas presenting overviews of the installation and the location of the individual celebrities.
On the boulevard, the celebrities of german film are each honored with a classic brass star. Embedded in the ground, the brass stars bear the name, biographical dates and profession. The first 40 stars were laid for the official inauguration of the boulevard in august 2010; a further 110 are to be added in the course of the coming years.
The elements of the installation that encourage most interaction are the abstractly represented cameras called stargazers, which bring the celebrities to life. Looking through the device, visitors will see the celebrity hovering holographically above their respective brass star. What is more is that the image can also be photographed through the stargazer. Visitors can also pose next to the floating image of the celebrity and have their picture taken with them.
Stargazer is based on an illusionary technique introduced in the 19th century by john pepper, which was also later applied in film: a mirrored piece of glass reflects a photographic slide of the celebrity into the viewer’s field of vision. This simple and entirely optical apparatus is not dependent on power or electricity and is therefore robust enough for outdoor applications in public spaces.
The sight of people posing with a holographic celebrity is naturally rather comic for passers-by, who can’t see the picture of the celebrity as it is only visible through the stargazer’s viewfinder. All they see are people contorting themselves in various poses for some invisible reason. The visitors thus become part of the presentation themselves.
The boulevard is lined by a row of LED spots attached to the light masts, illuminating the brass stars and the stargazers by night. The spotlights are all individually controlled to generate a discreet choreography of light. Every so often, the lights switch into a different mode and recreate the flashy excitement and glamour of a premiere parade.

The boulevard of stars is a living, growing urban installation that does not see memory as something passive but as a form of interaction between the celebrated and the visitors themselves. The visitors become an active part of the installation and contribute to completing it.

The projects had been designed in conjunction with my friends and colleagues at art+com and graft architects.