Mission Noise barriers, urban parks, prisons, slag heaps, railway stations, housing estates, motorways and industrial heritage: these are all part of Observatorium's field of operations. This consortium of three artists has developed a distinctive philosophy and working procedure. They take the grey areas and overlaps of urban design, landscape architecture, architecture and art, and make them productive. Instead of creating autonomous art in public space, Observatorium uses the media of sculpture and installation to make functional facilities. The objects are monumental, symbolic and meaningful, enhanced by use. As a way of communicating their knowledge, Observatorium founded the Open Air University. It presents student workshops and programmes of co-creation. The book Big Pieces of Time is both an overview and the outcome of this design philosophy - informing, philosophizing, inspiring, discipline-hopping and obliging. The photographs by Geert van de Camp, drawings by Ruud Reutelingsperger and narratives by Andre Dekker give an evocative and effervescent account of the genesis of the different projects and how they are used by the public. The book concludes with a complete list of works, from the smallest scale of handwork to the largest scale of urban design along a line that includes New York, Rotterdam, Essen, Dresden and Krasnoyarsk.
Time and Space for Focussing Attention Art needs a spectator. Creating time and space for focussing attention means giving, through the work of art, ample time and space to the spectator. The exhibition space takes on the nature of a dwelling, an opportunity for meaning to arise in the course of a prolonged, uninterrupted stay. Otium – Negotium An observatorium is a paradoxical space into which you withdraw in order to determine your relationship to the world. Perception of the surroundings is impossible without a gaze into the inner self. Isolation is a form of participation. Linking Seperate Worlds Observatorium takes a stand against thefragmentation of the world into separate zones for working, leisure, transport, shopping, housing, nature and waste. Observatorium rejects the boundaries between the separate worlds, and uses them to make connections. Civilization Is Maintenance Observatorium makes works of art that are "unfinished" and which develop in time. Civilization is similarly not a snapshot in time but a process. Maintenance is part of that development, not of the status quo. The work Is Not Finished Until Someone Uses It Observatorium orchestrates liveliness and provokes people to expand or modify their projects and sculptures. The basis for a public sculpture is established by a claim on space. The basis for a lively public space is appropriation by people. Make Use of Conflict Conflict and rancour exist alongside harmony and civilization. Art does not take sides, but worms its way between these opposites and makes proposals for coexistence. Turn antitheses into ostensible antitheses. Design What Is There Emptiness and silence are hard to design. Where available, Observatorium incorporates these characteristics into the design. There are three ways to do it: do nothing, protect them, and make them visible. A sculpture is Ideally Three Things A sculpture is ideally three things: a work of imagination, a reflection on the surroundings and a foundation of communality. It is there to be accepted and experienced, it discloses the nature of the context and motivates action. Cella, Courtyard, Domain Diversity of space arouses curiosity and creates diversity of use. The succession of cella, courtyard and domain, phases the fluid links between inside and outside. Private and public are established in dialogue. The World, As Told Observatorium makes sculpture for observing the world. It has to be used. The artist can initiate any sort of use which responds to the needs and ideas of the people it was made for. If he is the host in his own work, he is able to tell the story of its use and include reflections by others in his body of work. Standstill and Movement Space for speed is always surrounded by slow space. These spaces are usually separated as much as possible. Observatorium promotes sculpture that links these spaces together and creates opportunity for observation. Antonello An "Antonello", in Observatorium's parlance, is a public space in which a spectator may see an observer inside a sculpture. The sculpture is an object into which the person has withdrawn in order to perform some self-imposed task, while himself remaining observable and possibly open to interruptions. The thin line between public and private is inherent to the nature of the encounter of observer and spectator.