GRAZ TWO THOUSAND THREE - Cultural Capital of Europe


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Genre: Architecture/Art in Public Spaces

The Shadow Clock Tower
The Uhrturm And Its Twin

The Uhrturm (clock tower) on the Schlossberg was given an extra three-dimensional shadow in the form of a steel construction created by the young Styrian artist, Markus Wilfling. This black double attracted added public attention to the popular landmark of Graz.

The question as to how space is perceived is of fundamental importance to Markus Wilfling. With his "Shadow Clock Tower" project he showed how this perception influences our view of reality. The Uhrturm is the city’s main landmark, and its position as well as its history (ransomed from the French occupying forces by the Graz citizenry in the 19th century and thus spared from destruction) are of considerable significance to Graz and its image. The artist’s work placed even more emphasis on the original, drawing the gaze of visitors strolling through the town.

"The Uhrturm with its impact as a landmark and monument, as well as its optimal position in the cityscape of Graz, has prompted me to give it a three-dimensional shadow." (Wilfling) This "shadow sculpture" could be seen from several vantage points and varied in appearance according to the viewer’s location. When seen from the city centre, for example, it appeared as a contour. Further eastward in the direction of the Stadtpark, it took the form of an autonomous sculpture next to the original. Since the Uhrturm is visible from quite a distance, certain light conditions (bad weather, twilight) produced a phantom-like figure whose unusual appearance threw a captivating spell. It subtly invaded the public domain and succeeded without technical hardware while nonetheless conveying a virtual character.
The artist’s attempt to materialise the non-material impressively displayed the complex function of human perception in which both movement and surroundings play a role. Shadows exist as projected surfaces in a field of perception defined by light, object and space. Thus, they represent something like most people’s conditioned view and use of space in general, and of public space in particular. Wilfling’s project aimed at showing exactly this conditioned view of public space. The attention attracted by the object in its double form delayed its perception. Unlike other art objects, the "shadow object" could not be judged according to formal criteria. Instead it stood as an "object behind the object", making the viewers aware of their own means of perception.

Idea and concept: Markus Wilfling

A project of Graz 2003 - Cultural Capital of Europe

Date:All-year installation
Location:Public space: Schlossberg, Uhrturmplatz