WGNR rmx – Philipp Geist
New City Hall Bayreuth from July 7th to August 28th On the occasion of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday the Berlin artist Philipp Geist (1976) develops a comprehensive light and video mapping installation on the external walls of the New City Hall in Bayreuth over a period of 40 nights. The artist dismisses the use of screens and projects his artistic image and light projections directly onto the facade. The projection merges with the location and invites visitors to linger around the New City Hall. The art installation is going to be further developed and enhanced during the mentioned period.
The subject of the artistic installation is Richard Wagner and his works; images, words, quotes, and associations from his operas are artistically interpreted and incorporated into the installation. These terms and quotations from Wagner’s operas are projected in a „carpet of words“ and abstract verbal images on the facade. With his pictorial language the artist Philipp Geist develops his own artistic interpretation of Wagner’s themes. Geist creates a dialog between the location, i.e. the New City Hall, the visitors, and the artistic works of Richard Wagner. In the process, the access to the „Wagner“ topic is complex: On a first direct level, concepts and images of his major works will be displayed on the facade by means of the visual language of Philipp Geist. Visitors will be inspired by individual characters and scenes from the rich repertoire of fine arts, from paintings and illustrations, especially from the 19th century. However, the characters and scenes will be alienated and integrated into the abstract structures of Philipp Geist’s worlds of images. Known Wagner themes, such as fire, natural phenomenons, and symbols like the ring, the sword, and the storm as a mirror for the inner turmoil, can be re-experienced and emerge as quotes in the form of images. In this way the installation demonstrates connections in a non-narrative manner and thus admits a different modern and contemporary access to Wagner’s works.
In this manner the radiant face of the hero appears in order to darken and vanish in the next moment. The great void comes into sight through the building bathed in darkness symbolizing the fraud, the vile and the dark side existing in men.
A scenery appears for an instant to dissolve in a flash into a graphic pattern again. Pristine landscapes turn into pixels and remind the viewer of the actual romantic ideal.
The Rheingold shines and sparkles through a hinted blue surface of water to crumble to dust a moment later. Gray and white particles float over the facade; the material transience is almost palpable.
The symbolism of the colors is adopted from the works: white sails become black, and vice versa; for the contemporary video projection technology it is easy to decide instantly on fateful questions. The sails may also turn into colorful triangles and fly away over the facade as a graphic pattern. At the same time, it is the random and ludic character of the installation that lures out the tragic and borne nature of the Wagner pathos and allows viewers of any age to envision uncountable points of contact. The installation celebrates Wagner, but it also uncovers critical voices: polarizations like genius and kitsch clash together and cover the building as one, quotes as Wagner’s „Aber, aber, was sollen die Sentimentalitäten“ But for all that, what’s the point of all these sentimentalities] wander along the facade.
On another level the approaches followed by Wagner matter for Geist’s installation: Wagner crossed the boundaries between the different arts and contents. He allied image and sound, music and stories, symphony and legends. Also Geist’s installation is influenced by Crossover: the multimedia artist creates a synergetic work on the City Hall giving rise to images from texts and mixing the analog with the digital by painting with light and his computer.
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