23rd Art Division Excellence Award

Two Hundred and Seventy

Media installation

Nils VÖLKER [Germany]

Outline

A site–specific installation composed of 270 white garbage bags and 1,080 fans. The white garbage bags, placed above a columned hall from the 19th century and covering nearly 70 square meters, are inflated and deflated by the wind from the fans. The garbage bags hang from the ceiling in an arch and change their deflation patterns like a wave or water ripple, depending on the wind from the fan determined by a set program. As the fluid movement of the bags and fans and the sound of deflating bags fill the whole hall, it gives the viewers the sensation that the boundaries of the space and the shape of the installation start to dissolve. Through the combination of an everyday material with precise technology, the work mimics the origin and mechanism of a wavelike, organic movement. The work was realized for the exhibition Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty at the MAK – Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna (Austria) running between 2018 and 2019.

Reason

There are things in nature that exist in large scale: seas and mountains, for instance, or auroras. These are impressive to us and inspire a sense of awe, perhaps even a certain form of religious spirit. Massive human-made structures can also have this effect, from the Super-Kamiokande Neutrino Observatory to massive dams, stadiums, and ultimately the Great Wall, all of which serve to arouse fresh new levels of emotion through their massive scale alone. This installation consists of a system in which 270 plastic garbage bags are arranged in a 70m2 grid on a dome ceiling, and made to expand and contract in slow synchronization. Overwhelming to behold, the leisurely paced cycle and massive size of the grid are at the same time organic as well. Like the rocking of a cradle, this work lulls viewers into a meditative state. Does it suggest a cluster of wind power generators arranged along the Danish shoreline? An early summer cumulonimbus cloud spreading out as it hits the stratosphere? Gazing up at this exceedingly analog work, however, the impression we get is one of a subtle critique of AI society and its quest for efficiency, and therein lies the charm of this work. (IKEGAMI Takashi)