The Center of Cosmic Energy
with Emilia Kabakov
CATALOGUE NUMBER: 179
Collection of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.
The Center of Cosmic Energy is part of The Strange City in the form of a large-scale model. See CRI, vol. 3, no. 193, pp. 366–387. The idea appears in the installation Manas in the form of small-scale structures on the top of two mountains. See CRI, vol. 3, no. 177, pp. 228–237.
See CRB, no. 121, pp. 478–481; no. 126, pp. 494–497.
Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MA, United States
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: The Center of Cosmic Energy, September 6 to November 11, 2007. The installation was realized only in parts
DESCRIPTION OF THE INSTALLATION
Overall View of the Complex
The “Center of Cosmic Energy” consists of three buildings and three antennae. The three buildings stand in a single row, one after another, and thanks to special architectural elements, they form a unified whole. These architectural elements are of two types: the slanted parts of the building are executed in glass and metal armature that in various positions (but always at a 60-degree angle) participate in the architectural image of all three buildings; and the human figures placed on the roofs of these same buildings (the figures are also at a 60-degree angle). The dynamics of the inclines of these elements of the buildings match the dynamics of the antennae standing nearby and the airy transition from one of these buildings to these antennae. Hence, despite the difference in dimensions, the entire complex represents one architectural whole.
1- The Building of “Communication with the Cosmos”
a. This building, standing in the middle between the other two, is larger than its neighbors. Semicircular glass walls that allow light into the center of the building are arranged on both sides of the building. These walls have a 60-degree incline. Plaques, photographs, and tables with computers are arranged along the walls inside the building. These give the visitors a preliminary familiarization with the contents of the building.
b. In the center of the building there is a high, round space reaching the ceiling that is also placed at a 60-degree angle. The main object of this building is the slanted cylindrical space that is closed on all sides and that can be entered through the central entrance. Moving inside, the viewer sees before him a round wooden barrier, the back side of which is elevated, and all around him there are rows of chairs up against the walls that are intended for use during lectures. The arrangement of the chairs resembles a university auditorium, where one part of the hall is like a platform that rises above the lower part.
The object located inside the barrier serves as the center of the room. It represents the upper part of the ancient reservoir, the narrow mouth of which is open. The reservoir is not straight, however, but is slanted upward in such a way that its mouth is located exactly on the central axis running inside and along the space that is also crookedly drifting upward. There is empty space between the wall of the barrier and the reservoir, and if you look into it, then you can see a large dwelling down below, under the reservoir. Hence, the sensation is created that the entire spectator auditorium is hanging above emptiness.
When the viewers sit down (there are 40–50 seats in the hall), it turns out that their entire attention is turned upward at an angle. The viewer finds himself under the influence of two slanting spaces: the cylindrical walls all around are at a 60-degree incline; and the plane of the amphitheater itself is slanted toward the horizon at a 30-degree angle. Such dislocation creates a special spatial perception.
c. Looking upward, the viewer feels himself to be inside of a high cylinder with smooth walls (the diameter of the hall is 14–15 meters, the height approximately 16 meters) at the end of which there is a round window surrounded by three rows of cylindrically placed windows. What emerges is the special effect of a large luminescent circle inside three large luminescent rings. Simultaneously, the viewer sees that, parallel to the walls from up above, there are twenty round columns that appear to be hanging in the air above the hall and aimed downward. They are attached from up above in a circle; ten of them have a larger diameter and are longer, and ten of them have a smaller diameter and are shorter. In the overall context of the building, these are perceived as both antennae running from up above and as columns of a round temple that, together with these columns, is flying away upward.
After the viewers have filled the hall, the door closes and a twenty-minute demonstration begins that is somewhere between a lecture and a performance. The voice of a commentator emanating from a microphone tells the history of this place, the concept of “the reception of cosmic energy”; he tells about an ancient model of the building which was used to re-create and reconstruct this hall where the lecture is now taking place. The text is interspersed with music in a few places.
d. After the lecture, the viewer can descend into the lower part of the building, either by a staircase (spiral) or by an elevator. Here he sees all three preserved stone reservoirs situated one on top of the other.
e. The final stop on this “excursion” is the “point of intersection” of the two antennae. The viewer leaves the building along a semicircular glass bridge and walks up to the antennae. Here he sees this important intersection of “two energies”: the control panel, the indicator board, the signaling instruments—everything that corresponds to scientific research. After this, the viewer exits down the stairs to the street.
2- The Building of “Two Antennae”
The building is devoted to the archaeological excavations that allowed the discovery of what served as the original reason for creating the “Center of Cosmic Energy.”
a. The first floor houses materials that tell about these excavations, as well as illustrative models and sketches of the “ancient cosmic complex.” In these displays, one can read articles on this issue and other scientific materials. A fragment of the hill where these excavations were conducted occupies the largest part of the hall.
b. Walking around the hall, the viewer passes along a platform into a glass gallery and finds himself on the first level of the excavations. Before him is a large, well-preserved, stone reservoir with a mouth that is significantly larger than the three reservoirs in building no. 1. A round hole is clearly visible on the floor level of this reservoir. The viewer can descend to the lower level of the excavations via stairs or an elevator and can see up close the famous “antennae,” or more precisely, the preserved fragments of them. A segment of each antenna is made out of a durable material resembling cement and is 4.5–5 meters in size. The whole lower space, the reservoir, and the “antennae” are illuminated by the daylight coming in from above through the glass gallery, so that down below a mysterious semidarkness is created. The walls, as in all excavations, are made of reinforced earth.
c. The viewer moves through the building accompanied by a tour guide who explains the content and meaning of the revealed discoveries.
3- The Building of “Contact with the Noosphere”
This building is the smallest of the three buildings of the “Center” and is devoted to the experience of communicating with the Noosphere (see the section on Vernadsky’s theory of the Noosphere). An enormous round apparatus resembling the relay mechanism of a television is suspended from the upper corner of the building. A round screen is located in its lower part, and there is a hole in the center of the screen leading inside the apparatus. Entering the hall, the viewer sees television and computer screens standing up against the wall, and on the walls there are articles, diagrams, and photographs explaining the idea and principle of the influence of the Noosphere.
A slanted platform raised high above the floor occupies the central part of the building. The viewer ascends stairs, at first to a horizontal platform, as though it were the first floor, and then he ascends stairs to the slanted platform. It is entirely filled with horizontal benches, as if it were a stadium rostrum. Based on the main principles of the “Center of Cosmic Energy,” naturally, the incline of this viewer platform is 30 degrees, while at the same time, the incline of the axis running through the relay mechanism is 60 degrees. Having sat down on a bench, the viewer finds himself directly under a large round screen (the screen is 12 meters in diameter). In this place, the hall is not brightly lit, but rather semidarkness reigns, and in this semidarkness only the screen that is 6–7 meters from the viewer is illuminated.
In the hall, especially up above on the platform, silence reigns; there is neither the voice of the guide nor music. The viewer is affected merely by the enormous mass of the screen hanging above him, and the very weak, virtually imperceptible visual migrations across this screen. These are very weak, these visual signals running either in the form of waves, or in the form of lines, or as some sorts of symbols. The viewer is left to decide for himself how to make use of these signals coming from the Noosphere, whether he should see in them some sort of significance, or whether he should simply meditatively “listen to the Cosmos,” or whether he should see in them strange, minimalistic, kinetic works of art. This demonstration is accompanied by barely audible, rather physically perceptible music. The overall atmosphere reigning in this building is filled with mystery, silence, and a tense feeling that some very important scientific experiment is being conducted. Therefore, the guides and a few “employees” should be dressed in white coats and their heads should be covered with little white round hats like in scientific laboratories.
4- The Antennae
The complex “Center of Cosmic Energy” includes three antennae. All three are connected to one another, both visually and structurally. Two of the antennae, identical in size (both are approximately 55 meters), represent two halves of a single arch, the lower part of which is buried in the ground, and the two side “rays” are like two open arms, reaching upward in different directions.
One of these “arms,” the one which is nearest to the “Center” and which abuts it, is connected to the other arch-antenna aimed in the opposite direction—downward toward the ground. This lower antenna is shorter than the upper one: it is only 18 meters long. Each of the first two antennae has a semicircular shape, wide bases down below, and they get smaller as they move toward the top (accordingly, 9 and 1.5 meters). Each is constructed from five metal beams that together in their intersections form the shape of a cross-section of a boat. The antennae are held in place by a cable pulled tautly inside of them.
The bases of all three antennae are fortified in concrete blocks, and they emerge to the surface from unique slanted tunnels located below ground level. Down below, there are concrete ramps leading to these tunnels. Support stanchions are inserted into the side walls of these ramps and into their concrete bases, and these support the antennae and give them stability. A glass gallery leads to the “split” antennae, and this gallery unites these antennae with the building “Communication with the Cosmos.” The color of each antenna is light gray. (Light gray paint that protects metal is used.) The purpose of the “antennae” and their “work” is described in the preliminary “conceptual” part of the description of the project “Center of Cosmic Energy.”
CONCEPT OF THE INSTALLATION
Science long ago established that there exists a direct interaction between the Earth and the Cosmos surrounding us; moreover, in specific places on our planet, this contact has an extraordinarily active, almost physically perceptible energy effect, which could be defined as the presence in some spots of a flow of cosmic energy. The construction of a special “Center” for the perception of the energy of the Cosmos in such a place could have important scientific significance, as well as a direct therapeutic effect on all those who visit it.
The main complex of the “Center” for Essen in the Kokerei area is housed in three buildings:
“Ancient Reservoir of Cosmic Energy”
“Center of Cosmic Energy”
“Laboratory for Contact with the Noosphere”
In addition to these, the territory also contains an observatory and a large slanted antenna.
1- Ancient Reservoir of Cosmic Energy
During the pouring of the foundation for a factory in 1989, archaeological finds were revealed that became the topic of study by many astronomers and other scientists of the world. Objects belonging to an unknown civilization from the thirteenth century BC were discovered at a depth of 14 meters. The discoveries resembled enormous chalices with narrow oval stems that were buried into the ground at a 60-degree angle. Two circumstances interested the scientists: there were no traces whatsoever of any food products inside the chalices, and at the same time, there was a high concentration of so-called “subtle energy.” This very same concentration was also found in the surrounding soil. Furthermore, two stone “antennae” turned back-to-back were discovered at the next depth. The findings lead to the hypothesis that the discovered objects had a cosmic orientation, and that the purpose of the “chalices” was to receive and store the cosmic energy.
2- Center of Cosmic Energy
The “Center” includes a tall (25-meter) slanted cylinder and the laboratories surrounding it. The “cylinder” is positioned precisely on the same axis with the three “chalices” belonging to an ancient civilization (thirteenth century BC) that had been discovered as a result of excavations. According to scientists, this cylinder has a cosmic purpose. All three “chalices” stand one on another at a 60-degree angle, the angle scientists have recognized to be the one at which cosmic energy flows to earth. (All “cosmic structures”—pyramids, ziggurats, “Tatlin’s Tower”—have this angle.)
The lower part of this “cylinder” has an amphitheater, to where the public can descend during the time that “energy” is being received. In the upper part there are groups of 8 and 16 antennae with their “rays” pointing downward with the goal of concentrating and directing the energy flow downward.
3- Laboratory for Contact with the Noosphere
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the great Russian scientist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky proposed the hypothesis about the existence of a Noosphere surrounding the earth, a unique kind of shell where all the projects, ideas, and thoughts that had been elaborated by the best minds, scientists, inventors, and philosophers over the entire history of humanity’s existence would concentrate and never disappear. Furthermore, history has provided multiple examples and evidence of the potential for contact with this Noosphere. It is true that this has happened only in the rarest instances in the past. At the same time, if it were to be possible to establish regular contact with this sphere, then humanity would have at its disposal a constant reserve and supply of creative energy.
The “Laboratory” structure was erected with precisely this goal. Its main complex consists of an apparatus tuned for the reception of signals from the Noosphere and a round screen on which these signals are projected in both audio and visual form. People sitting in direct proximity to the screen will be able, if in a state of silence and concentration, to connect to these signals.