Summer 2005, a street of houses in Vienna’s 7th district – For a period of two weeks all advertising signs, slogans, pictograms, company names and logos will disappear. The fabric of signs and signals so characteristic of our cities, which normally fills the space between the architectural structures and the urban movement flows, is eliminated, and the public space is ‘delettered’. Thanks to the Delete! art project, the commercial street falls silent, as it were: the unequivocal, biunique messages are deleted to make room for an unpredictable openness, a baffling virtuality.
Delete! – removes all the written signals which normally try to attract the passer-by’s attention: a phenomenon we are sufficiently familar with from two-dimensional representations and photomontage works will be translated for the first time into three-dimensionality, into the here and now reality of Vienna’s Neubaugasse. The technique at the heart of Delete! is ‘wallpapering’, which is easy and inexpensive: all written signals (except for those necessary for road safety) will be covered over with monochrome, fluorescent foils, and individual three-dimensional letters will be enclosed in plastic.
The aspect of deleting – The lettered, indented, grid-iron order of the street space is transformed into a ‘smooth’, orderless space, which unleashes something akin to pure potentiality. Inasfar as ‘city’ and ‘desert’ embody two opposite principles, a ‘desert-like’ momentum encroaches on the delimited area of an urban street: the absence of signifiers first provokes disorientation, a sort of “existential horror vacui” (Lutz Musner); at the same time a process of letting go occurs, or – to put it more positively in line with the principles of Taoism – a vacuum is produced which maintains the fullness.
The sculptural aspect – The geometric bodies become more evident due to the monochrome uniformity of the signs, which as carriers of the written signals normally evade conscious perception: the square, vertically or horizontally arranged, hexagonal or even circular volumes become clearly visible and make contact with each other. Depending on the lighting conditions (daylight/artificial light) and the viewer’s angle of vision, different landscapes emerge, which consist of forms grouped one behind the other or on top of each other and blend into the existing architecture and facade design like three-dimensional abstract paintings.
The discursive aspect – Delete! may also be understood as an artistic statement on the repeatedly renewed discourse about advertising in the public space: to what extent do advertising spaces and signalling techniques shape the aesthetic picture of a city? How far do they influence the residents’ experience of life? Could it be that the “white noise of disused media” creates a still deeper-reaching horror, namely “fear of the place without labeling and belonging and of the body without sign or function”? Delete! does not seek to answer these questions by forming opinion, but by addressing the field of immediate spatial perception directly perceivable by the senses.
Realization – The implementation of Delete! is already underway. The idea has met with a powerful response both in Austria and at the international level. This drastic intervention in the cityscape using the very simplest of methods is generating an enormous energy of integration, even in the run-up to the project itself. Likewise, the interest of businesses and shopowners, who by their participation will become actors in the art project, has been surprisingly strong. In the summer of 2005, Delete! will turn Neubaugasse in Vienna into a force field of social and cultural exchange.
Produktion St. Balbach Art Production
Gefördert von Wiener Wirtschaftkammer • BMUKK • MA7
Kooperationspartner Kunsthalle Wien