SPOTS was a project realized on extremely short notice, commissioned in February and inaugurated in November 2005. As part of an internationally oriented marketing campaign for an untenanted office building on Potsdamer Platz, SPOTS aimed at a temporary, spectacular staging of the rather inconspicuous investor architecture, so that the greatest possible attention of international media would arouse the interest of potential tenants from afar.
Instead of simply copying the BIX installation at the Kunsthaus Graz—which would have met the client’s expectations—SPOTS reacted specifically to the architecture and urban surroundings while continuing research on topics begun in Graz. Both projects investigate the scale, size, and resolution of media elements in an urban and architectural context as well as the general relation between medium, message, material, and location. But SPOTS went a few steps further—introducing a shifted light/pixel grid using different types of lamps as well as a distinct daytime appearance.
SPOTS was not to be a neutral carrier medium at all. The installation was in equal parts a medium and a separate structure, whose idiosyncratic matrix interfered with any content displayed. This “object character” was especially important, because the matrix of lamps was also visible by day—in contrast to the BIX façade. This character was created by the irregular outline of the display itself, which partially dissolved the physical façade of the architecture, as well as its division into two separate screens and the different types of lamps, which were arranged in a large graphic pattern with a 30 degree tilt and which were detailed as autonomous individual objects. The installation also involved a large-scale affixing of custom-made silk-screen printed colored foil with varying transparency to parts of the installation surface. This façade coating was visible by day, lending the arrangement of lamps additional variety, and by night it served as a diffusion screen for the individual lamps, resulting in a slight coloration of individual sections.
1,014 ring-shaped and 760 bar-shaped fluorescent light tubes served as pixels, forming a giant low-resolution, grey scale matrix. A central computer individually controlled the brightness of every single light. As a result, movies, graphics, and animation sequences could be displayed on the façade as moving luminous images transforming the building’s shell into a communicative membrane. The aim was for the media installation to continue the structural logic defined by the architecture instead of concealing or contradicting it. On the one hand, the considerable overall size of the installation became economically feasible by reducing the resolution and doing without color. But on the other hand—and more importantly—giving this media installation the right resolution, size, and dimension was a necessary prerequisite for acting on the architectural scale of the surrounding Potsdamer Platz quarter.
Over a period of 18 months, the installation was used to present a series of curated exhibitions with commissioned, site-specific art works from internationally renowned artists like Carsten Nicolai, Jim Campbell, and Rafael Lozano Hemmer, which were shown for a month each.
Questions regarding the pixels, the resolution, the screen, and the architecture have nurtured work on later projects (compare AAMP, C4, Crystal Mesh). Although each of these has formulated a very specific answer, taking into account the changed surroundings and circumstances, all of them mainly seek to create transitions and connections between media, architectural design, and displayed content.