I came across the work of Numen / For Use in the Croatia exhibit at the Prague Quadreinnele and have been raving about them to my friends for the last few months. In particular their Tape Sculptures which they have now built in a number of cities in throughout the world. So, I was very excited to open the newspaper last week and see that they had constructed on of their tape works in Federation Square Melbourne. Later that afternoon, I found myself in a line with a bunch of high school students, all waiting to have my seven minutes inside this cacoon like maze of tape.
Numen/ For Use is made up of three designers: Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljković. Starting out as Industrial designers, they also work as scenographers for theatre. Their theatrical designs think about space is unique way and are often kinetic in nature, and use challenging materials such as mirrors. Their use of space is very fascinating and their designs are able to create new worlds, which take the audience on journey into the work. One of the most striking thing I found about their designs is the way lighting becomes an integrated element in the scenography. Lighting, staging and movement often work together to create seamless manipulation of the space; walls will move to let light in from a new place or reflect off a different surface complety changing our understanding of the world. Even on video the effect of seeing these elements work together is magical. No wonder they won the Gold Medal for Best Scene Design and Best Use of Technology at this years Prague Quadrennial.
The idea for the Tape Sculptures itself came out of a design for a dance version of Ovid’s Metamorphosis for the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, where dancers wove the sculptures throughout the performance. From this idea, the work has taken on a life of its’ own: part sculpture, part architecture piece the Tape scupltures encourage the audience is encouraged to climb inside and crawl around in the belly of these organic structures. Once I got over my terror of being held up by suspended packing tape, I found my experience of being inside, amazingly calming, . Diffused light filled the space and they sounds from outside faded away. There is a real sense of lightness being inside the Tape Sculpture, both in weight and vision that help to make this space so relaxing. Seven minutes didn’t seem like enough time, I could have stayed in there for hours.
Tape Melbourne is open in Federation Square until September 24, if you can bear to stand in a long queue it is well worth it
The documentary about Numen/ For Use’s work “Chair in a Desert” that screened at the Prague Quadreinnial can now be seen on their website here. (the last 10 minutes is about the Tape Project but if you have the time watch the whole thing, their work is truly inspiraitonal.