Scenography, design and realisation of an immersive spatial installation incorporating historic and contemporary context.
In 2016, the German Ivory Museum reopened in Castle Erbach/Odenwald, taking ivory-related art back to its roots: It was here, back in the late 18th century, that Count Franz I of Erbach Erbach (1754 – 1823) first popularised the art of ivory carving.
While the architecture studio Sichau und Walter was tasked with the exhibition’s overall design and curation, m box took care of the concept, design and realization of the exhibition’s introductory “black box” – a media space designed to familiarise visitors with the thoughts, philosophies and ideas of Franz I and his era before the actual exhibition.
Unlike the standard museum set-up of passive, informative entertainment, conveyed via facts and imagery, clever inclusion of omissions and irritation factors encourages visitors to think for themselves and question what they see. To support this premise, m box devised a spatial installation that – against going expectations – does not offer a traditional historic rehash of the count’s life and work, but instead places historic facts in a larger thematic and temporal context, sparking lateral connections and associations with current social phenomena.
Once visitors enter the black box, shielded from view via a light trap, they are confronted with a hard-to-grasp space, fragmented by countless of mirrors. In the darkened room, graphical, abstract animations on five upright display columns and LED strips provide the only illumination. With its deliberately progressive aesthetic, the associative media content – and its superimposed, programmatic sound installation – transform the compact, 60-square-metre space into an intense, immersive experience.
The experience is based on a semi-fictional travel diary, describing a trip through associative snippets that could be read as a gradual inner education and enlightenment – or an actual, physical journey. Visitors are encouraged to decipher and contextualise the diary’s structure and context via active movement and exploration in space. Music, sound effects and language fragments, anchored in space by an immersive, 20-channel sound system, enrich the visual contents by a further, associative layer. Depending on the recipients’ chosen position in space, they are confronted with changing visual and aural perspectives, constructing ever-new visual and contextual connections from the fragmented media surfaces and reflections around them.