joi, 20 noiembrie 2008

Pura Austria at the ZARAGOZA WORLD EXPO 2008. An Austrian Cultural Extravaganza in Spain.

description: view along the mirror wall towards the visitors arena and the centered snowball.
wrap-around projection and snowball performance: “wintersun“ by liquid loft.
photographer: Guenter Kresser

On June 14, 2008, the Austrian Pavilion at the World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain, opened its doors for three months under the name of Pura Austria. Here, Austria showcased itself and the country’s creative scene according to the Expo’s theme of “Water and Sustainable Development.”

From June 14 through September 14, 2008, the Zaragoza World Expo was a platform for companies that wish to demonstrate their competence, quality and innovative strength. Some 400,000 visitors were expected in Austria’s 512-m2 pavilion, where they experienced Austria with all their senses.

Under the leadership of government commissioner Marès Rossmann and Austrian EXPO director Robert Punkenhofer, Austria presented itself to the world as a reliable business, science-and-research and tourism partner, while awareness for the country’s progressiveness would be further honed in the areas of architecture and art, culture, fashion and music.

The Austrian contribution to the Zaragoza World Expo was staged in cooperation with members of the national creative scene, based on the theme of “Water and Sustainable Development.”

The architectural concept for the Austrian Pavilion was developed by ARGE Strauss-Solid-Ritter, whose Pura Austria entry was chosen by the selection committee overseeing the Expo 2008 public bidding process.

Pura Austria is an innovative and comprehensive solution that features the interplay of architecture and art – such as the pavilion’s exterior, which displayed a huge landscape of ice and snow photographed by the internationally known artist Walter Niedermayr. An opening between the movable slats surrounding the pavilion’s exterior served as the visitor entrance; and, inside the building, the Walk of Fame – a hollowed path enhanced with multimedia installations – took visitors to a stage called the Arena. The Walk of Fame includes photographs of Austrian everyday personalities, also centered around the theme of “Water and Sustainable Development,” as well as the video work Blue Skin by Tomas Eller.

The Arena is a semi-circular space where projections and a large, ceiling-high mirror will offer 360° panorama views of Austrian natural and cultural landscapes. The symbiosis of periodic installations, dance performances, multimedia images and sound installations – all created for EXPO 2008 – seduced the senses of visitors and provide them with a fascinating experience, at the same time subtly presenting the message that Austria is a country where water is plentiful.

A special performance entitled “Winter Sun,” by, winners of the Golden Lion for the dance section of the Venice Biennale, leaded in the grand opening on June 14, as well as the Austria Day festivities on July 14.


> ARGE Strauss–Solid–Ritter, Austria Pavilion
> Architecture and Design Symposium “LIQUID SKY”

ARGE Strauss–Solid–Ritter, Austria Pavilion

The participating countries at EXPO 2008 presented their content and events in
buildings erected by the Expo organizer. The semi-circular complex provided for the
Austria Pavilion was “doubled” into a cylindrical shape using a ceiling-high mirror on the long side. With the mirror, a 180° projection on the interior wall will appear as a 360° panorama view.

The Austria Pavilion is an extension of the popular 19th-century “cyclorama” art form. The viewer platform in the center of the panorama and the plastically designed historic panorama architecture in the foreground merge into a white landscape marked by contour lines, which served as the pavilion’s exhibition space. This abstracted landscape (i.e., exhibition space) forms the center of the various “panorama spaces” that result from the changing projections, while its abstracted form ensures that the landscape is also an integral part of each projected panorama. For example, when surrounded by images of mountain tops, the landscape transforms into a mountain crest; and when the images change to trees, the landscape becomes a green forest clearing.

The landscape’s modeling interplays with the mirror’s doubling effect to create diversified spatial and viewing relationships: Some spaces is “completed” by the mirror’s reflection (Arena), some spaces provide an ideal overview of the landscape and panorama (Plateau), and still others are not doubled by the mirror (hollowed path).

Visitors thus experienced the pavilion as a sequence of “staged spaces” having
different dimensions. After entering the cave-like foyer, one must ascend the path to
become aware that the space gradually opens up. Having reached the top, or Plateau, the space broadens fully to reveal the spectacular panorama views.
On the Plateau, visitors become a part of the staged scenery, or veritable actors within the panorama, including the ability to walk amidst the abstracted landscape and to view their reflected image. This integrative element of space, landscape and viewer is also present in the design of the pavilion’s façade, as well as in the performances held inside.

Ultimately, integrating the works of selected artists, such as Tomas Eller and, leaded to a multifaceted dialectic between art and architecture.

Architecture and Design Symposium in cooperation with UMDC-Barcelona
LIQUID SKY – Horizons of Design and Architecture for the 21st Century

Empty your mind! Be shapeless, like water! (Bruce Lee)

Fluid architectural and design concepts point the way to a future where design deals
more fully with social needs and challenges, while the idea of collective and networked working methods is a means of supplanting purely individual strategies. The one-day LIQUID SKY conference revealed approaches towards these ends from the fields of architecture and product and corporate design, including experimental ones. Thus, representatives from these creative fields werw on hand in the Austria Pavilion for an exchange of ideas. Rather than presenting specific projects, however, the experts attempted to identify a vision for future project situations based on their individual design philosophies.

The event targets a design and architecture-interested audience, and is organized into three separate topic areas:

• Architecture
• Product & Corporate Design
• Experimental Concepts

Each of the above areas were addressed by two teams, with one coming from Austria and one from Spain. In cooperation with curator Ulli Machsteiner, the following participants have been nominated to attend:

• The Next Enterprise: Marie Therese Harnoncourt (AT)
• Cloud 9: Enric Ruiz Geli (ES) Product & Corporate Design:
• Porsche Design: Christian Schwamkrug (AT+DE)
• Node: Miguel Tito (ES) Experimental Concepts:
• Radi Designers: Robert Stadler
• Azuamoliné: Martín Azua (ES)

Idea: Robert Punkenhofer


In the lounge, furniture from such renowned Austrian manufacturers as Bene, Wittmann and Neue Wiener Werkstätte tempted visitors to linger a bit longer. And, the light and sound installation SPEED SHIFT, by Erwin Redl, ensured a relaxed ambience, while at the same time challenging traditional conventions for perceiving space and time.

The following companies and manufacturers are providing the furniture:

• Copa
• Wittmann
• Svoboda
• Neue Wiener Werkstaette
• Bene


> Walter Niedermayr, Pitztaler Glacier 5/1997
> Lucy + Jorge Orta, OrtaWater Zillie Fluvial Unit
>, Winter Sun
> Erwin Redl, SPEED SHIFT Zaragoza, Light and Sound Installation
> Tomas Eller, BLUE SKIN, Film

Walter Niedermayr, Pitztaler Glacier 5/1997

A major theme of Walter Niedermayr’s work as an artist has been to show photographs of Alpine landscapes in various sequences. And, with respect to architecture, his aim is not simply to photograph it, but rather to internalize it in an abstract manner.

Niedermayr’s 6-part photographic series shows images of the Pitztal Glacier, with the
movable slats that surround the length of the pavilion’s exterior façade enabling a
change of scenery from summer to winter. The common theme in all of Niedermayr’s
creative work is to show landscapes and spaces under the influence of everyday
technology. Indeed, one of his complex of works has systematically focused on the
“urbanization” of Alpine landscapes over a span of nearly twenty years.

Niedermayr’s investigation of the subject is not about identifying what is “Eventful or sensational, but rather to spot a certain spatial atmosphere arising from the presence of human beings or the ‘civilization’ of a landscape.” His photographs of the Pitztal Glacier for the Expo were taken several years ago, and they depict tourists amidst this Austrian glacial region. The pictured individuals are life-sized, thus establishing a relationship between reality and virtuality, as the viewer automatically becomes an extra, or even co-actor, within the scene.

Lucy + Jorge Orta, OrtaWater Zillie Fluvial Unit

Here, the artist duo has created sculptures by combining functional, everyday objects, photographs, welded items, sound bytes and objects related to the issue of water. In fact, their OrtaWater project has already been featured at key international individual exhibitions and, in 2007, Lucy + Jorge Orta’s environmentally critical installation won the Green Leaf Award – a prize handed out for artistically outstanding works that bear an environmentally related message.

The Orta’s work concentrates on the general scarcity of water, and issues related to the privatization and corporate control of water for the purpose of ensuring access to a clean supply for all. For Lucy + Jorge Orta, the overriding goal of their artistic process is to actively contribute towards an expanded understanding of the coming water problems, as well as the development of sustainable solutions for the same.

For the Zaragoza Expo, the Orta’s work – entitled “OrtaWater Zillie Fluvial Unit” –
concentrated on conveying the artists’ message in a playful and accessible manner. The work unites the traditional Zille canoe used in the mountains of Austria with an “organic” steel construction, the latter representing a bottle rack filled with hundreds of commercially available brands of water from around the world. The structure integrates fittings and water pipes that are connected to tanks holding water from Austria. By turning the faucets that are also a part of the sculpture, Expo visitors were able to extract water and refresh themselves., Winter Sun

The collective known as includes talented music, dance and visual artists under the choreography of Chris Haring, and it currently rates as one of the most innovative Austrian performance groups on the international scene (having won the Golden Lion for dance at the Venice Biennale). The group’s performances and installations directly link contemporary dance with other cutting-edge art forms, thus creating a coherent “total art experience.”

Wintersonne (“Winter Sun”), a performance developed expressly for the Austria Pavilion at the World Expo 2008, is a unique total-art experience that consists of a permanent, wrap-around video projection coupled with a specially designed light and sound concept, a central installation which visitors can walk through and a gallery of video works in the entrance area.

The work’s artificial, movable biosphere appears as a high-tech “climate-zone object” or simulated “amniotic bubble,” depending on how one views it. Inside, the phases of water that Austria is most frequently associated with, namely snow and fog, were artificially simulated. This central object serves as the actual stage upon which the audience and professional performers interacted. Only within the context of the wrap-around projection and its media-induced environment, together with the animated participation of the audience, and perhaps the associative impulses generated, this futuristic biosphere transformed into what surely is the best-known souvenir in the world: a snowball. The idea of “Austria,” also as a brand, will furthermore be communicated via the individuals and scenarios shown in detail
within the large projections.

The oversized snowball, which audiences may walk through, was the central object of the installation and it has been surrounded by animated panorama projections. Thus, this coveted Austrian winter souvenir, set amidst expansive, abstract landscapes, has been transformed into a “living space” for human beings. Always in a relaxed pose, people has been seen encamped or moving about on a glacier meadow, in a sunflower field or on the shores of a mountain lake. Thus, the country escalated its natural seasonal “resources” for winter and summer vacations to the point of a total and artificial event horizon; and visitors will find themselves in a near future of simulated weather, where a sunbath on the glacier can be taken anytime!

In addition, the slowly moving, almost private performers in the projection has been discreetly mingling with random visitors:

Everyone is at the lake shore, throwing inviting glances at the visitors inside the pavilion. From time to time, the virtual persons moved closer to the demarcation between the projection and auditorium. As they bow over their own projection surface, or simply stand there, they ask visitors what their expectations were: “What do you desire from an ideal country?”

An additional scenario within the performance installation is the Walk of Fame. In the entry way of the main room, a series of “portraits” – or artistic video stills – containing images of Austrian “inventions” has been displayed. With the theme being “Heroes of the Everyday,” these “inventions” include a “travel-nose-shower container” and a “pocketfish- breeding container.”

By way of active intervention on the part of staff, multimedia
technology, composed sound environments and an interactive stage set, visitors were immersed in a sensual-fantastic world whose dramaturgy evokes a web of associative – and sometimes tongue-in-cheek – ties to the present.

Erwin Redl, SPEED SHIFT Zaragoza, Light and Sound Installation

After studying computer art, composition and electronic music, Erwin Redl has for a
number of years now occupied himself with various media, such as CD-ROM, Internet and sound, using both formal and structural techniques. Central to Redl’s approach is the technique of “reverse engineering,” or “copying” the programming of a software without knowing its original code.

This involves complex algorithms, “controlled” random operations and similar operations, and it is all inspired by computer code. In this fashion, Redl creates colossal-sized architectural light installations in which space can be perceived quasi as a “social skin” through the artist’s intervention.

Time is an additional factor affecting perception, as Redl’s installations require the viewer to move inside the space in order for their effects to fully unfold. Ultimately, the interdependence between individual experience and an exchange of experience with others sets in motion a complex social phenomenon.

At the World Expo 2008, Erwin Redl displayed a sound and light installation that defies traditional conventions of perception with respect to the fixed structure of time and space. The installation will feature two ribbons of white LEDs mounted along the floor, ceiling and walls of the installation space.

Using computer controls, the brightness of the LEDs will constantly change to create wave-like light patterns. These waves of light will run counter to each other along the floor and ceiling, at the same time changing gradually in rate, to thus establish a clear relationship with the motion of water – the main theme of Expo 2008. In addition, gentle beeping tones in synch with the two wave patterns will serve as an indication of the waves’ changing tempo. To visitors, it seemed as if the ceiling and floor are afloat.

Tomas Eller, BLUE SKIN, Film

In his film BLUE SKIN, Tomas Eller investigates water in its frozen state. His camera
follows mountain climbers in their quest to intervene with nature, as they attempt to
position light-reflecting ribbons as markings amidst various glacial landscapes. Their
effort to subject nature to their failed several times before the projection began anew.

The one-minute sequences showed the exact same optical motions and run in an
infinite loop on all projection surfaces inside the Austria Pavilion. Thus, visitors were constantly accompanied by the moving images, pulling them in deeper and deeper. Eller undertook the project to investigate how human beings attempt to break down three-dimensional spaces into surfaces, and to create moving images of the process as a means of exploring the limits and defining the locations. The sometimes fragmented images of frozen water showed the effort involved in this “structuring concept.” The only sound accompanying the multiple film tracks is that of a helicopter.

Together with Elxe Berghammer, Eller is currently working on a limited publication to
accompany the film, which was released in August. The art book combines microscopic photographs of bodily fluids with drawings of the intervention process on the glaciers, as well as cartographic representations of mountain lakes.


> Schella Kann
> House of the very
> Schella Kann, Stuffdresses

Anita Aigner and Gudrun Windischbauer established the fashion label Schella Kann in
1985. Since inception, their seasonal collections have made Schella Kann a staple on the Vienna fashion scene. Primarily known for the use of unusual materials and material combinations, Schella Kann creations for everyday wear target the independent, intelligent woman: Relaxed yet chic outfits for the day that can also be worn at night, as well as exciting accessories. The label’s two designers have always placed great value on staged photo shootings for their collections and they have thus been able to build a formidable archive of stylish images.

Schella Kann’s designers were commissioned to create the outfits worn by the Austria-Pavilion staff at Expo 2008. In keeping with the theme of water, the chosen colors are turquoise contrasted with earthen tones – or water meeting mountains! The special collection includes dresses, trousers, skirts and T-shirts for female staff members and Tshirts for the men. The materials used include jersey fabric and knitted cotton, and some shirts bear the Pura Austria logo, without lettering. Fittingly, the image is of water droplets only.

House of the very

House of the very is a cooperation between four young designers embedded within a
network of Viennese underground artists, musicians and film directors. Fashion design is their main creative interest, and House of the very prides itself on hand crafted designs, as well as the deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of prevailing dress codes.

The label’s collections adroitly combine individualized elements that together form a
conceptual unity, and a short film is presented with each new collection. Ultimately, the goal of House of the very remains to position itself both within and outside the limits of fashion – and thus to constantly reposition itself anew.

Each artist within the collective relies on a different approach, at the same time sharing ideas with others in the group. Among the interests pursued are ecological sustainability and a direct social and political discourse, while a common denominator within the collective is the desire to do away with the stereotypes that arise through the various discourses. The cultural construction of reality and identity, and in particular the issue of gender and how to display it, are central to the process of arriving at a fashion concept.

Relying on “ironic distortions” and “backward shifts” within the design process, House of the very aims to create clothing that suits any gender role, while leaving plenty of room for individual expression. House of the very is co-responsible for designing the costumes worn by members during the latter’s interactive performance and installation.

In addition, selected pavilion visitors were invited to step out of their street clothes to become an active part of the “content” of the oversized snowball – as properly styled waltz dancers or in traditional Tracht clothing. With a mix of humor and persiflage, willing visitors thus helped perpetuate a popular Austrian cliché that is cherished among tourists especially.


> Paraphrase – A commissioned composition by the Philharmonic Quintet on the occasion of Austria Day at the World Expo, on July 19, 2008
> Marktmusikkapelle Ostermiething
> DJs Madrid de los Austrias
> Electronic Music Festival – Sonoaus08


A commissioned composition by the Philharmonic Quintet on the occasion of
Austria Day at the World Expo, on July 19, 2008

This musical Paraphrase was composed by René Staar and consists of two parts. The first is an abstract section for which the thirds intervals of the triads in the Blue Danube Waltz have been “disassembled” and then newly rearranged, with the melody’s poetic content remaining in tact. This first part bears the working title “The Dream of Rain and of Clear Water” and lends itself to both universally and politically leaning interpretations.

The denouement occurs in the second part of the Paraphrase, in which elements of the Blue Danube Waltz have been recombined to create a new whole. Here, the abstract dream of the first part transforms into a real fantasy consisting of recognizable elements of the famous waltz.

Marktmusikkapelle Ostermiething

A collection of light-hearted and frolicking compositions with many lively elements
perhaps best describes the musical pieces that will be performed during the EXPO 2008 concert. All of them are storied classics of Austrian music, with one exception that certainly fits the Expo’s theme: Water Music by the German-British composer Georg Friedrich Händel, first performed during a barque voyage on the Thames by King George I. Jaunty compositions by Carl Zeller, as well as both Johann Strauss senior and junior, represented Vienna during its heyday as capital of the Danube Monarchy. With works by Bruckner and Mozart also selected, the program additionally featured two of the greatest musical geniuses that Austria has ever produced. And, finally, a musical greeting from Robert Stolz took listeners into the 20th century.

• Water Music by G. F. Händel
• Scherzo from the Fourth Symphony by Anton Bruckner
• Eine kleine Nachtmusik by W.A. Mozart
• Potpourri from Operettas by Carl Zeller
• Thunder and Lightning Polka by Johann Strauss II
• Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II
• Greetings from Vienna by Robert Stolz
• The Radetzky March by Johann Strauss I

Complementing the Expo 2008 concert program is the Marktkapelle Ostermiething, a
formation that performed its down-to-earth repertoire as part of a cultural exchange with Austria’s Spanish partner region of Gudar-Javalambre, as well as in appearances both outside and inside the Austria Pavilion.

Founded in 1928, the band is known today for its traditional oom-pah-pah sound, but
also for its interpretations of modern, international pieces. In fact, Marktkapelle
Ostermiething is well-known as a brass orchestra par excellence.

DJs Madrid de los Austrias

Wearing the hats of musicians and producers alike, the Austrian duo of Michael “Pogo” Kreiner and DJ Heinz Tronigger has already cooperated with such names as Kruder and Dorfmeister, while releasing numerous remixes and albums of its own.

The act’s name – “El Madrid de los Austrias” – is identical to that of a popular quarter in Madrid, called thusly after those who had it built: the Spanish line of Austria’s Habsburg dynasty. As DJs, Madrid De Los Austrias wear their passion for meaty red wines, Flamenco and other Andalusian delights on their sleeves. As a result, the sound is most often a fine blend of traditional Spanish and modern Austrian. The duo was part of the official Expo 2008 program of events, and their performance on September 9 (2008) has been helded in the Amphitheatro, on the Expo grounds.

Electronic Music Festival – Sonoaus08.

In cooperation with Stageplanet Madrid, Trapist and the Wolfgang Muthspiel Trio will
perform at the Balcony of Music as part of the official Expo program.
Trapist – made up of drummer Martin Brandlmayr, guitarist Martin Siewert and bassist Joe Williamson – has existed since 2000, with two albums to its name thus far. The trio’s range of influences includes space rock, improvised minimal music and folk-influenced psychedelia.

Though Trapist’s unique sound defies categorization, one can describe it as a skillful interweaving of improvisation and prestructured forms. When it comes to jazz, guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and his fellow trio members – the brothers Andreas Pichler, on drums, and Matthias Pichler, on contrabass – place more emphasis on melody than they do on making sound experiments, and on individual notes rather than tempestuous virtuosity.

In recent years, Muthspiel has made quite a name for himself internationally, be it as a side man to Gary Burton, Paul Motian or Dhafer Youssef, as a solo concert performer or in leading his own formations. With the exception of Charles Mingus' East Coasting, his program consists solely of his own compositions.

Photos from the grand opening can be downloaded at

Additional Information:

description: view along the mirror wall towards the visitors arena and the centered snowball.
wrap-around projection: “forrest“ by STRAUSS–SOLID-RITTER
snowball without peformance
photographer: Guenter Kresser

description: view from the main plateau toward the visitors arena an the centerd snowball.
pure architecture with white light projection.
photographer: Guenter Kresser

description: view from the end of the “narrow path” into the exhibition area.
pure architecture with white light projection.
photographer: Guenter Kresser

description: view from plateau towards the gallery behind the mirror.
artist installation: “Orta Water Zille Fluvial Unit“ by Lucy und Jorge Orta.
photographer: Wolfgang Thaler

description: foyer and shop with visitors
photographer: Guenter Kresser

description: view from VIP lounge toward the movable wall
light and sound intervention: “Speed Shift“ by Erwin Redl.
photographer: Guenter Kresser

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