Bristol-based "visual label" AntiVJ is pleased to present their latest project, "O (Omicron)," a permanent installation at the Centennial Hall of Wroclaw. (I'm not sure what their self-proclaimed designation means either, but, if their work is any indication, it's a contemporary take on an atelier or studio.) Directed by Romain Tardy and Thomas Vaquié, the large-scale, site-specific light and sound piece was two years in the making... roughly the same amount of time it took to build the dome nearly a century prior.It is reasonable to think that when Hala Stulecia was built in 1913, Max Berg's ambition for his construction was to pass the test of time. What could have been his vision of the monument in the distant future? How did he imagine the olding of the materials? The evolution of the surrounding urbanism and populations?
The edifice is often cited as a canonical example of reinforced concrete architecture, and, at 65m in diameter (roughly the size of Columbus Circle), the designers note that the Centennial Hall is "the largest dome built since the Pantheon in Rome eighteen centuries earlier." No wonder, then, that the modernist marvel was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.A deliberately minimalist visual aesthetic allowed to highlight the very architecture of Hala Stulecia's dome and re-affirm its place at the core of the piece. Minimalism also appeared to be the most appropriate means of conveying this idea of future at different periods of time (from 20's/30's anticipation film to more contemporary productions ). But the use of these references was not simply formal: the vision of futuristic totalitarian societies seemed to echo back real moments in the history of the building, warning us against the dangers of an idealized vision of the future.
Inspiration for the music composed by Thomas for this project was found in both orchestral work, echoing the colossal size of the architecture, and electronic textures, evoking the action of time. The score also tried and recreate a sense of evolution of the materials used for the dome structure, and their sonic aging.
By using references such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis or the utopian projects of Archigram to confront the different visions of the future at different times, we were interested in trying to create a vision of a future with no precise time reference. A timeless future.
Omicron? More like Omi-Tron!
I'm not sure if readers are better served by watching the 'Making of' clip before the actual piece, but both (after the jump) are well worth watching; where the video of the installation suggests the sublime (full screen highly recommended) in the straightforward edit, it's impossible to grasp a sense of scale. The process piece provides a reference point, showing persons in the massive atrium, but it's ultimately the sort of thing that must be experienced in person (not least because the audio, like the visuals, takes across all 360° of the space).
...and definitely Death Star, too...
Thankfully, the general public will have the opportunity to see it in person for the foreseeable future: "O (Omicron)" is a permanent installation for the new museum of architecture at Hala Stulecia. No word on whether they'll still have the occasional sporting event there (though I'd love to see Heat-Thunder 2012/2013 pre-season exhibition game on the temporary parquet):