As part of the new permanent exhibition, the former staircase of the Goethe National Museum was converted into a scenographic installation focusing on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust. At a lectern display, the visitor can select any of the 3,556 nouns that occur in Faust. This sets off engaging graphics of moving lines, showing the passages in the text where a specific noun occurs. The installation is simple and entertaining, while at the same time remaining sophisticated, with a continuous meditative quality that changes the space in all sorts of different ways.
The idea, developed by the scenographers, Prof. Michel Müller and Prof. Markus Weisbeck, envisaged a key element that would represent Faust, Goethe’s seminal work, in the main space. Goethe’s core literary motifs were to be presented in an inspirational way between the two floors of the exhibition.
The central staircase in the Goethe National Museum was to be used as an exhibition site for the first time. The space presents itself to the visitor as an archive and evocative theater stage allowing many different facets of Faust to be experienced.
The stairwell for the presentation is architecturally challenging, with complex spatial ergonomics; it serves as a passageway, but also provides visual contact between the different exhibition spaces through several windows.
In close teamwork together with the scenographers, MESO took advantage of the almost 5 m high stairwell in which a sculptural ceiling installation, visible from all every angle, was placed.
Goethe’s texts are brought to life using projection mapping with real-time graphics. Two projectors cast the text fragments onto the sculpture from both sides. The projection surface is perfectly visible from the two sides and has a meditative effect on the space.
The installation is supplemented with an interactive station in the shape of a stele at the center of the room. The sculpture, made up of 11 folded metal bands, is suspended above the visitors’ heads.
The text of the complete first and second parts of Faust was used to supply the basic data for the digital full-text archive. The media staging of the complex work raised two main challenges for us.
On the one hand, the morphological complexity of a list of all the nouns (more than 3,000) had to be investigated, and, on the other hand, the nouns had to be given in their contemporary nominative singular form.
The museum’s directors welcomed the idea and made the preparatory academic work for the project possible though an assistantship. This process led to an extensive database featuring all of the text lines from Faust I and II and including a search engine that filters out each noun and illustrates where it appears in the work.
From hands to Faust: the operating terminal is set on a raised landing and gives the visitor a direct view of the sculpture as it reacts. A control-wheel allows the visitor to scroll through the prepared text archive and look up every noun in it, from “A” to “Z”.
The lines in the original work corresponding to the selected keywords appear on the sculpture.
In “attractor mode”, without an active user, a large-scale surprise element is switched on throughout the whole staircase for all the museum’s visitors: random text fragments become part of the auto-active animations and create a meditative atmosphere inviting people to do active research.
Curious about our approach? Feel free to get in touch!Sebastian Oschatz Partner +49 69 24 000 321 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com +49 69 24 000 321
MESO Digital Interiors GmbH
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Valérie-Françoise Vogt, Friedrich Söllner, Sebastian Oschatz, Johannes Helberger