As the title of the exhibition Empirical knowledge – 300 years of science in Berlin indicates various scientific institutions in Berlin are celebrating their jubilee, and they do so with a unique joint project at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. In the past 300 years openness and an interest in the foreign were very important virtues and the “imported knowledge” was considered to be a gain. This is beautifully displayed in Mark Dion’s huge installation in the atrium. Most diverse objects from various disciplines and time periods are arranged in a kind of shelving unit of vast dimensions. They can be gazed at from the opposing galleries through specially constructed, interactive telescopes. The telescopes draw the objects closer, and at the same time they provide historically verified explanations about certain objects, as for instance the skeleton of Frederick the Great’s horse. In this very poetic installation the exhibition’s thematic complexity is mirrored playfully. Tweaklab developed and designed the telescopes, including the elaborate optics and lenses, and the programming. A device to measure axes facilitates locating the objects, and an “invisible” LCD screen displays the object descriptions to access the explanations. The telescopes were produced in two sizes: for children and adults.
As the history of science is characterized by fervent discussions and arguments, the production “Streiten” (“to argue”) focuses on that subject. A big round table standing in the middle of the room is equipped with horizontally set video screens and loudspeakers. Visitors can retrieve six scientific opinions on a particular dispute by pushing several buttons. The original theses become audible and convey the divergent points of view. Vividly edited archival footage is being displayed synchronously to the votes on the screens.
Tweaklab developed the first versions of their single cup headphones specifically for this exhibition. They are equipped with switches to turn up and down the volume and to select a language. The fact that the audio files start and stop as soon as you lift or place down the receiver on the magnetic holder makes those handheld headphones exceptionally userfriendly. The third generation Tweaklab handset is now available and has become a popular device in exhibitions.
In addition, Tweaklab designed and developed ten analogous light boxes on the subject of “Interpretieren” (“to interpret”). Back-lit portraits of scientists, such as Alexander von Humboldt for instance, become visible. As soon as the observer approaches the portrait a sensor activates ultraviolet light, which makes a quotation appear on a glass panel in front of the portrait.
Planning, development of all the special applications, implementation and construction of the media technical installations were all on Tweaklab’s hands. Furthermore, the video’s various formats, the audio files and archived recordings were processed, edited and transferred to the respective digital carriers in our digital laboratory.
Conception: teamstratenwerth, Basel
Exhibition design: SPACE4, Stuttgart