Room installation
Material: approx. 1.200 nylon threads and 1.500 screws
Simultanhalle Cologne

“The work PROJECTION focuses on the relationship between simulation and reality. It creates a model with a perspectival image, and yet it is free of illusions. Instead, it refers to the architectural history of the location, the Simultanhalle, a building which, originally designed as a model for the Museum Ludwig, has of late become an exhibition space in its own right.

Nylon threads arranged in the shape of a cone throughout the entire space represent the visual rays respective to the model, which all central perspective  images are based on. Colourings on the threads mark an imaginary image plane which reconstructs the northern outer wall of the Museum Ludwig relative to the northern outer wall of the Simultanhalle. This serves to make this wall, which represents the entire museum building, reproject its own simulation in the Simultanhalle and therefore also in its own model.“

Hanging on by a thousand threads

by Holger Otten

There were probably quite a few visitors attending the exhibition opening entitled “Projection” by Daniela Friebel who got one quick glimpse inside of the Simultanhalle and thought that the artist was playing a trick on them. There was, after all, nothing to see - at least not anything special - apart from a staircase and a stage, both of which belong to the exhibition hall. The viewers’ amazement did not come until after a second, third or even fourth take when they discovered that more than a thousand extremely fine nylon threads running wall-to-wall filled the hall and fanned out in the form of a tilted pyramid – threads that could only be surmised at best. It was a question of what angle they were viewed from. And this meant that most of the visitors were in constant motion, moving from left to right, back and forth, upstairs and downstairs. Some even tried to crawl underneath the installation, while others felt their way cautiously along the transparent filaments. For the distant observer, it looked like something from a pantomime.

Depending on where the viewers stood and what positions they took, they were able to catch glimpses of pieces of the threads as they refracted the light only to vanish again. We looked straight through them, our eyes slid along them or right off. On one side of the room - on the wall facing north - where the tangled web simply had to end, we saw nothing but a white wall. The nylon strings seemed to vanish into thin air just before reaching the wall. Only the screws that formed a fine grid over the entire wall indicated where the strings most likely ended – where they indeed had to end. On the other side of the room – on the wall facing south - the threads of the tangled web gathered together. Whereas the northern side was marked by lightness and space, this side clearly made visible the concentration of the threads in a small area. The countless threads made us feel the power with which they pulled at the few hooks in the wall. But how easily might this construction collapse?

The idea behind this beautiful illusion was to work with the original model character of the Simultanhalle. In 1979, the architects Busmann and Haberer constructed on the site of a former schoolyard in Cologne-Volkhoven a test building for a new museum on the Rhine. More than anything else, their aim was to test what the lighting of the space would be like through a characteristic shed roof. The northern exposure windows of the shed roofs of both buildings proved to provide the rooms with very even light - no direct sunlight - and bring to mind the so called “North light studios” used by photographers in the 19th century.

Daniela Friebel took the ground plan of the museum and compared it to that of the test building’s. In contrast to Museum Ludwig, which has northern exposure, the Simultanhalle deviates by approximately 3.3 degrees - this was marked with colour on the nylon strings. The artist also moved the museum wall into the hall by 1.2 metres, making the vanishing point 1.2 metres behind this wall – and concealed from sight. In the hall itself, the threads ran like rays from a small rectangle in the wall that faced south, projecting the virtual museum wall into the exhibition room. (The visual rays ended in a small rectangle on the southern wall - a projection of the museum wall in the scale 1:10.)