in frankfurt, germany, christos voutichtis of studio URMA has installed a thought-provoking installation called ‘CAGE’. composed of a mesh container attached to a billboard and illuminated with blue neon lights, the radical intervention questions our assumptions about what architectural space is. the work also draws from the ideas of cultural theorists such as jean baudrillard and guy debord to make comment on our contemporary consumer society, advertising, and ‘the society of the spectacle’.
images @ christos voutichtis
christos voutichtis describes the billboard as a theatrical stage. ‘it is an exhibition space, a seductive representation of a product or service or venue, or a simulation drawing attention to itself. it is a large advertising structure on the side of the highway or in the middle of the city whose images and words capture the notice of the pedestrian or the motorist speeding through the physical world. a billboard can be blank and waiting for the next commercial customer to rent it and give it new content. it can be illuminated at night by spotlights or have horizontally scrolling neon words that loop endlessly in an electronic display. it might be covered over by graffiti or torn to shreds by vandalism. it might extend outwards with three-dimensional human or animated characters. billboards operate primarily in the service of the advertising industry,’ says voutichtis.
located at frankfurt’s ostend train station, next to the european central bank, the billboard cage project also exhibits le détournement, a technique that was adopted by the situationists that means ‘hijacking’ or ‘rerouting’. ‘cultural and media expressions of the capitalist system get turned against themselves by altering slogans or images, jamming the messages, twisting them inside out’, describes voutichtis.
the empty cage is made in the shape of a rectangular parallelepiped measuring 224cm x 150cm x 112cm. attached to the billboard, the object seeks to break free from and overcome the constraints of architecture. ‘this three-dimensional steel-and-mesh container made with tube rods and polycarbonate chamber plates conforms to the description of a threshold space (till boettger) and serves as an exemplar of the genre of interspace art. it is a place at the interstices of regulations, a challenge to prohibitions, where the limits of what is feasible are transcended,’ says voutichtis.
‘CAGE is a space that contradicts space as we know it. it places into question our assumptions about what architectural space is; the cage offers no warmth or protection, no private sphere or personal safety. it is a space that disregards all human needs. the blue light that is built into the cage causes biological features that make us distinctly human to disappear – our veins are rendered invisible. the cage as space is inhuman,’ concludes voutichtis. ‘CAGE is a commentary on advertising. advertising truth is a lie, a hyper-lie becomes truth, a hyper-truth becomes lie, a hyper-reality beyond the epistemology of truth and lies.’
edited by: lynne myers | designboom
designboom | architecture & design magazine