Multimedia digital and site-specific installation
About Phase 1 in Zurich 2023
This year, in 2023, the first phase of the Transcultural Collaboration (TC) program lasted four weeks and took place at the Zurich University of the Arts. Being presented with different input lectures around the topic of protection the TC-participants dealt with current challenges to democracies all around the world, the colonial legacies that persist in Switzerland, exchanged with several artists connecting their practice to an understanding of community and collaboration and did some local “field trips” around the city of Zurich. The participants shared their own artistic practices through different mediums such as performances, talks and meditation exercises.
The time spent together was intense. Participants still had to get to know each other, a shared language and understanding had yet to be found, common ground needed to be established, differences acknowledged, and one’s own place in the group needed to be found.
After two weeks of inputs, getting to know each other and discussing the possible guidelines for collaboration the participants got to work on smaller group projects during two weeks.
The works all connected over the topic of protection and found different ways to approach the questions of what protection actually means, which conditions create safety and when protection can tilt into over-protection and oppression.
The result of these collaborative works can be seen in the following.
Originating from many influences from Rapunzel to Zurich’s churches to the Panopticon, “Approaching Tower” explores the complex social power structures that are embedded in the architecture and the symbolism of towers. As a diptych of physical scenography and virtual reality created by Leo BARTON, Ho Man HO, Tak Tsung NG and Martha OELSCHLÄGER, the work presents multiple modes of dissecting the image of a tower and its many manifestations. Physically, visitors could ascend and descend the site-specific stairwell dressed with protective chains, referring to the suicide protection net found on Blauer Turm. With the help of VR-glasses the visitors were virtually able to emerge themselves to the foot of a composite church and communications tower listening to a reactive soundscape. Interrogating the multifaceted and contradictory symbol of the tower, this piece began with the question “when does protection become threatening itself?”. A question which heavily depends on perspective and alignment, negotiating the thresholds between preservation and over-protection, ideology and social control.
This cross-disciplinary project brought together the participants expertise in scenography, lighting design, reactive audio and virtual reality. The creative process included a variety of new approaches and access to new tools that the group used throughout the project. It provided a platform for a sustainable and fruitful collaboration.