Composing The Lines | 2002

| video |

Working on his design for the jewish museum in Berlin, Daniel Libeskind referred to the project as between the lines, a title that picked up on central aspects of his vision for the building. The lines connecting the centers of jewish life in Berlin were a key springboard in this process, an invisible, irrational geographical matrix from which he developed a visual alphabet of architectural forms.

The installation composing the lines offers an artistic exploration of Libeskind’s architecture of the jewish museum in Berlin. It explores the intimate relationship between the museum’s architecture and the music of Arnold Schönberg. As Libeskind himself claimed, the jewish museum completes Schönberg’s unfinished opera Moses und Aaron. The central theme of this opera is the attempt to present the unpresentable, a predicament which Libeskind also faced in tracing the city’s eliminated jewish culture and unimaginable horrors of the holocaust. The visual alphabet he developed from these questions and the laws governing Schönberg’s twelve-tone technique form the basis of the interactive audiovisual architectural generator composing the Lines.

The installation consists of a touchscreen and two separate projection surfaces. By interacting with the touchscreen, users intuitively compose a row of twelve tones. The tones are represented by pictograms from the visual alphabets Libeskind developed for the museum architecture. This row of twelve notes – the prime series – is reversed, inverted and retrograde-inverted according to the principles of twelve-tone music. Projected onto the second screen, these two-dimensional elements are arranged in a three-dimensional row and played so that the composition can be experienced as a musical and architectural structure.

The artistic installation Composing the Lines deliberately avoids a simple reading. Although the interaction is intuitive, the installation remains a primarily aesthetic and associative experience. A complete deciphering of its workings is deliberately avoided with the aim of encouraging intensive contemplation and personal interpretation.

The project was commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin and realized with the friends and colleagues at art+com, special mention Ralph Ammer. With additional help from Studio Libeskind.