'Hello Future' sculpture and design roundabout, Zweibrücken 2011
Public Arena What is the purpose of the hole in a doughnut? You can ask the same question about the middle of a roundabout. A design for a roundabout is inevitably art or landscaping, because any form of actual use or functionality is impossible. But someone driving on a roundabout cannot but watch its centre, just like an audience in a stadium has to watch the play-action unfold. Large numbers of spectators guaranteed, much better than a museum. If the display deviates from the expected or the ordinary, some sort of confrontation is bound to occur resulting in either public approval or rejection.
Precursor One of the first artistic treatments of the roundabout is probably the ending of the movie "playtime" (1967) by Jacques Tati, in which he transforms a roundabout into a merry-go-round. Tati, whose criticism of modern architecture and modern life plays a central theme in his work, always commented the new with a childlike wonder. His overcrowded roundabout turns into a wonderful choreography of the stop and go movement of traffic. Set pieces of a fair are worked in and, for example, the associative combining of lilies and streetlights express a longing for the familiar and innocence lost. Just as at the time of the movies creation, when traffic began to dominate the environment, today again we are facing chances that will shape our world anew. To make this new condition visible, we wanted our design to be larger-than-life, similar to the portrayal of Tatis "modern world".
Present and Future Our society is going through a paradigm chance. The transition from an atomic and fossil fuel economy to a form of sustainable energy supply and distribution is a big challenge to the energy and utility companies. This sculpture, an energy-tree, symbolizes the coming change to a sustainable energy economy, which our client, the public works of the city of Zweibrücken, actively applauds and welcomes. The conic tubes of the stem and the branches refer to the infrastructure needed to supply a city with its vital lifeblood, energy and water. Of course it also refers to the client, whose systems are mostly invisible beneath the ground. Here they break out into the open. The photo-voltaic cells on the sculpture supply the energy needed to light the sculpture at night. The design of the pedestal plays with the movement of the traffic: the static blue strips on the pedestal become animated when seen from a moving car and produce a continuous standing wave, a reference to the water supply system. On purpose, the design remains suspended between figurative and abstraction. We wanted to open the field of interpretation and association as much as possible, and indeed a lively debate started in Zweibrücken on what the sculpture looks like, and if it’s any good. Anyway, we are looking forward to the name the sculpture will receive when out of the many possible images and associations one will have prevailed.
Kerstin Molter Mark Linnemann