Luminapolis sprach mit Uwe R. Brückner über sein neues Buch, die Bedeutung des Lichtes für die Gestaltung von Ausstellungen und das Szenographie-Festival IN3, das Anfang Dezember in Basel stattfindet.
Luminapolis: Uwe R. Brückner, ATELIER BRÜCKNER is one of the top agencies in 4D communications in Europe. Now you have published “Scenography”. It is a programmatic title. Can you try to explain in simple words: What is Scenography?
Uwe R. Brückner: Basically speaking, the most important task of scenographic design is to translate complex content into physically accessible spatial narratives and to generate stage-managed spaces with narrative qualities. Ideally, the space itself becomes the medium, the conveyor of messages. After all, a stage-managed space is all about the dialogue between the location and its objects, about the relationship between content and recipient, about perception and the intended effect of an authentic spatial experience. Scenography is a polydisciplinary, generalistic philosophy of design. It is the logical, consistent answer to the design requirements of our time and the appropriate response to the continually changing behaviour of our information society. Designing scenographically means setting in scene, with the aim of providing a stage for things and stories and thus attracting maximum attention.
Luminapolis: Your book presents your installations for museums, brands and scientific institutions between 2002 – 2010. Your guiding principle is “form follows content”. What are your media for conveying/relating the content/story? And what is the role of light in it?
Uwe R. Brückner: What is characteristic of scenography is an integrative approach to design, whereby the means of designing and the artistic potential of the different disciplines such as architecture, interior design and set design, as well as installation and media art, are used in order to generate a coherent spatial installation in the sense of a “Gesamtkunstwerk”. Media are always used integratively, the idea being to create value-added. This also applies to the use of light.
One of our more recent projects at Expo Shanghai for STATE GRID (China’s biggest energy company) generates its narrative structure from films by means of LEDs. A tightly meshed LED grid pattern on the six interior sides of the 15x15x15 meter cube enables film to be shown and produce a space-generating effect. The “Magic Box” is the beating heart of the State Grid Pavilion. From it, technical signals are transmitted that encompass the entire building complex with network lines imbued with electricity. In accordance with our attitude to design, the shape of the pavilion and the way images are shown in it are derived from the corporate philosophy of the State Grid Company: “Empowering your dreams”.
Luminapolis: Sometimes I have the impression that exhibitions are undergoing a process of transformation into computer games. Interactivity is the main attraction today. Does the exhibit-object disappear from exhibitions? Design after things, is that the future?
Uwe R. Brückner: My experience is that the much-cited dichotomy between the exhibit and its staged setting has been artificially talked up and is now simply outdated.
Content in the form of an exhibit, its message or its narrative is always what is most important. In the case of collection-based exhibitions, the exhibit will therefore always be in the foreground. A good example is the new permanent exhibition of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, a museum of ethnology in Cologne which possesses a unique collection of international ethnographica. When the scenographic concept was being developed, the main objective was to create scenographic narrative spaces in which the exhibits would be able to reveal themselves with all their narrative qualities and animate the visitor to decode the details. The exhibit remains protagonist and narratively rich medium at the same time.
Apart from this, there are themes and exhibition projects with, for historical reasons or because the theme is an abstract one, only a few collected items to be shown. Two of our work projects are worth mentioning as an example. One is the Visitors’ Centre of the European Parliament that makes it possible to experience the legislative work of parliament. An additional challenge was to make the contents accessible in 23 European languages. Another example, the CERN Visitors’ Centre, portrays the work of the scientists with and around the particle accelerator. These two examples concern highly abstract information which is primarily conveyed interactively with the help of media and can also be presented in a way that can be tangibly experienced by the public.
Luminapolis: You are working with students at the Academy of Art and Design in Basel and there you are co-founder of the international scenography festival IN3 (next edition in December 2010). What is the focus of the festival this year?
Uwe R. Brückner: Following the successful first festival «spatial arts – life in search of style» in 2006, that dealt with the trailblazers of scenography from various disciplines and the second event «staging the stage – scenography inspired by performing arts» in 2008, that was dedicated to the exponents of Scenography in performing arts, the festival 2010 will focus on examining the actual core business of scenography, i.e. “exhibiting and staging” in and around museums: «Exhibit! – scenography in exhibition design» will consequently be its title! The event will be presented from the 2nd thru 5th December 2010 in the Basel “Kaserne”. Target groups are locally and internationally active museum directors, curators and all those who are interested in the international museum and exhibition business. The festival addresses scenography students, their professors from partner academies of the Institute of Interior Design and Scenography, as well as the rapidly growing community of training institutions in Europe and abroad that, from their different perspectives, have dedicated themselves to training and education regarding scenography.
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More about Atelier Brückner
More about the Scenography Fesival IN3