The New Infinity
New art for planetariums
With new works by Agnieszka Polska, Metahaven and Robert Lippok & Lucas Gutierrez as well as live concerts by Richard Reed Parry (Hamburg) and Dasha Rush (Berlin), the 2018 series “The New Infinity” enters its second year. The new work cycle celebrates its world premiere in cooperation with the International Summer Festival Kampnagel at the Planetarium Hamburg. The new works can then be seen at the Mobile Dome on Mariannenplatz in Berlin as part of Berlin Art Week.
“The New Infinity” series takes place in an extraordinary architectural space: it was developed more than 100 years ago as a planetarium dome to convey the star system and the dissolution of boundaries that accompanies looking into space in as realistic a way as possible. At the same time, planetariums have been high-tech spaces from their very inception, a sophisticated simulation of artificial worlds that were initially analogue and which have been digital for more than thirty years. So why not use these institutions for artistic projects? Because what works today in a planetarium works in all planetariums worldwide.
Up until now, planetariums have been mainly scientific and educational spaces, and contemporary art has rarely been displayed in them. Yet planetariums exhibit the largest and most impressive images of our time, combined with the intense sound of highly developed 360-degree acoustic technology. As part of “The New Infinity” series and in co-production with the Planetarium Hamburg, the Berliner Festspiele/Immersion have been providing artists with this high technology and their associated expertise for the past two years, thereby supporting the development of new artistic worlds. This project is made possible by a specially developed test dome at the Planetarium Hamburg, which is available free of charge to the artists and technicians within the project series along with the necessary software.
The aim of this new project is not only to democratise the high technology of these places but, as an alternative to the works usually in the programme, to invite contemporary artists to develop specific works of art for this “new” medium, which is becoming increasingly accessible in the digital age. A further aim of this project series is to present these new works at festivals worldwide and at a number of partner institutions, so that a new user profile of these special places can be created in the long term. Planetariums are the galleries of the future, places to experience new reality in the field of contemporary art and the intersection of development at universities, museums and high-tech research centres worldwide. The Berliner Festspiele’s Immersion programme series works hand in hand with the Planetarium Hamburg, which is one of the leading and most visited institutions of its kind in the German-speaking world and a pioneering stakeholder in the International Planetarium Society. As a co-producer of “The New Infinity” series, it continues to open its own institution to artistic content and disseminate it through its network. Since 2018, the Planetarium Hamburg has thus become a laboratory and training ground for visual artists, sound artists, filmmakers and game developers, using digital audio-visual technology to develop new art productions for the dome space, which sometimes take us far beyond the usual boundaries of space and time – to the experience of a technologically mediated infinity made tangible.
Since the public does not automatically look for contemporary art in planetariums, the Berliner Festspiele also actively approaches the public from the outset. In 2018, a mobile dome specially developed for the project series by tat aiRstructures brought a newly commissioned work into public urban space for the first time, which was enthusiastically received by more than 20,000 visitors on Mariannenplatz in Kreuzberg. Contemporary art in planetariums, as we can see here, is neither hermetic nor abstract, but captivates visitors from every generation and creates a place of peace and joy in the middle of the city.
The programme series started on 26 September 2018 with the presentation of a first series with new works by David OReilly, Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst and Fatima Al Qadiri & Transforma as well as a concert with William Basinski, Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand as part of Berlin Art Week in our mobile dome in front of Künstlerhaus Bethanien.
The works were then presented in the Planetarium Hamburg and at numerous international festivals. In his interactive fulldome work “Eye of the Dream”, Irish artist and game designer David OReilly explores the origins and evolution of the universe, continuing the visual language and logic of his award-winning video game “Everything”. Together with Mathew Dryhurst, the American composer Holly Herndon created a “Chain Opera”, which developed a linear narrative with the help of real film and choral singing. In their work “Extraordinary Alien” the composer and conceptual artist Fatima Al Qadiri and the video artist collective Transforma refer to the category “alien with extraordinary ability” in the classification of artists’ visas for the USA and play on the double meaning of the English word “alien”, i.e. both extraterrestrials and exceptional beings, who resist any representation.
The second work cycle of “The New Infinity” presents new fulldome positions by Agnieszka Polska, Metahaven and Robert Lippok & Lucas Gutierrez in summer and autumn 2019. For her hypnotic visual essay “The Happiest Thought”, Agnieszka Polska revives prehistoric terrestrial landscapes and traces a natural disaster 240 million years ago, the consequences of which are still visible today. The collective Metahaven interprets the ancient myth of the Elektra and its growing up in a unique combination of animation and real film, while in “Non-face” Robert Lippok & Lucas Gutierrez explore the geometries of objects that are digitally representable but cannot exist in the physical world. The sensual experience of these artistic and artificial realities opens up new ways of understanding, which also testifies to the planetarium as a place of a conceptually different kind of knowledge, and thus leads it into the future as a place of understanding.
This second work cycle will have its world premiere on 13 August 2019 in cooperation with the International Summer Festival Kampnagel at the Planetarium Hamburg. In addition to the premiere of the new productions, the core member of Arcade Fire, Richard Reed Parry, will premiere his solo album “The Quiet River of Dust” in Europe as an audiovisual immersive experience in the Sternensaal of the Planetarium Hamburg. In September, the new productions, supplemented by an extensive supporting programme, including the world premiere of a new fulldome concert by sound and media artist Dasha Rush, will be shown in our Mobile Dome, which will open its doors to Berlin audiences once again at Mariannenplatz during Berlin Art Week.