Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wall(s) of Light

[These photographs are unrelated to the Berlin Light Wall project, but I found them compelling and somewhat appropo here in their own right. These images of New York come from Keith Kin Yan at Overshadowed. Very cool qualities of light and urbanism. (via Moon River)]

"A spectacular laser wall of light" the Deutsche Welle informs us, "pinpointing where the communist-built Berlin Wall used to weave its way through the heart of the city" is being designed as part of Germany's larger wall memorial event plans. "On roads that now link east-west Berlin, narrow strips of light at a height of 3.6 metres and at ground level will show the route of the Wall."
In a kind of super-imposed retro-borderification, Christian Dirks, a historian, architect Dirk Buecke, curator Catherina Mertens and light designer Sascha Hinz, are teaming up in hopes of illuminating the ghost of the Berlin Wall by the time of the 20th anniversary of its destruction on Nov. 9, 2009.

Buecke says, "People would be able to pass through the wall of light without hesitation, symbolically, reliving the moment of the barrier's demise." The roughly 96 mile barrier not only carved Berlin in half but also surrounded its western border for nearly 30 years, between 1961 and 1989.
Of course, it would be very cool if we could raise the ghosts of all the old border walls of Europe, just flip a switch and suddenly a light-dissected history of the entire continent is redrawn on the earth, so that the European Union becomes instantly reminded of its inseparable past by weightless squatting border-crossing panes of artistic light; as seen from space this laser borderwall revival catches on around the world, and soon the most ancient disputed border geographies from Africa to the Mideast are magically remapped where hordes of people now are already busy passing through their enlightened walls. But, as if tracing pre-nation-state geographies weren't compelling enough, we imagine all the borders we know existing today but can't actually see: infrared walls, "virtual fences", invisible barriers, surveillance landscapes, etc., and we begin to shine a light on them, too. The whole thing becomes a light memorial to expose the infinite border walling of the world, where security walls and border fences have fallen and gone on to reappear over and over through out time. Sort of like the birth of urban geopolitics told in pages and pages of architectural light.

Anyway, plans relating to the Wall of Light project are currently being displayed at an exhibition called "City of Transformation, City of Ideas," at the Galerie Aedes in Berlin.


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