Giorgio Cappozzo & Robert Gschwantner
The Perfect Circle, 8:58 min, 2007
A glassy lake. On the water a rowing boat, in it an elegantly dressed man. The boat reaches the stone-lined shore. The man steps onto the trimmed grass, walks along the minimalist edge of the canal. In front of him stretch serially repeated squares of trees, a circle of water, lines of perspective. At first glance, the video work The Perfect Circle (2007) seems shot in a utopian landscape. The cool atmosphere emphasizes the accurate geometries of trees, greenery and water. Yet this space is real: it is the Grand Canal in the park of Versailles. André Le Notrê designed this topography of artificial nature. He thus anticipated, as early as the 17th century, a modern spatial design that later dominated European urban planning. Main, transverse and diagonal axes are connected by round, semicircular and star-shaped squares. 350 years later, the geometries of the axial cross and circle reappear: far away from Europe in the planning of a major Chinese project. Lingang New City, a port city designed on the drawing board for 800,000 inhabitants, will also have a lake as its center. The design by architect Meinhard von Gerkan envisions a modern ideal city, with water as its focal point.
The Reflected Hexagon, 9:04 min, 2010
Snow crystals consist of water and are formed in the air. At low temperatures they form simple hexagonal prisms. Water and air are used here as metaphors – for the ancient port Portus near Rome as well as the airport Tegel in Berlin. Snow crystals, Portus and Tegel have one thing in common: their hexagonal shape.
Tegel Airport was inaugurated in 1974, and its hexagonal terminal bears many formal and functional similarities to the ancient port facility Portus (112 AD), which was built around a hexagonal harbor basin.
Similar to airport gates, the wharves had numbered columns assigned to ships for berthing. There were stores to supply food and a “palace lounge” for the elite to use while waiting for their ship to depart. The harbor basin could accommodate up to 200 tall galleys, which moved around in it in circles – like the cabs in Tegel. However, the formation of a water current was prevented by the hexagonal shape. Portus and Tegel were international transshipment points whose unique shape effectively enabled the supply and exchange of people and goods from two metropolises in different eras.
EYE-LAND, Robert Gschwantner, 5:07 min, 2014
IJsseloog – the IJssel Eye – can be imagined as a mythical territory, an island with a hole at the edge of the inhabited world. Infinitely deep, it hides what civilization hides from itself. Paradisiacal and tranquil, covered by plants and inhabited by wild animals and inaccessible to ordinary visitors, the island harbors in its depths the toxic waste that civilization can no longer sustain. The man-made island in the middle of the Ketel Sea in the Netherlands acts as a kind of black box for the self-destructive accumulations of civilization – a history that must be periodically encapsulated in order to continue.
The island of IJsseloog was completed in 1999 in the shape of an eye, whose pupil is a circular lake one kilometer in diameter. The lake serves as a dumping ground for contaminated heavy metal sludge deposited over the past 150 years at the mouth of the Rhine and Meuse rivers. The amount of toxic waste stored on the island is 23 million cubic meters and will hold for the next 30 years until it will be full and completely sealed. If the project goes as planned, the island will be transformed into an ecological vacation island after it is sealed.