The Cube

Audio-visual installation for a (white) cube, 28.21 min loop, HD, colour, sound, dimensions variable (the work is adjusted and re-worked to the location it is presented in), 2015

by Andrea Božić and Julia Willms

The Cube is an audio-visual installation, an immersive environment for a white cube where the entire room is part of the work. It combines the architectural and other attributes of the location with a digital video projection inserted into it to create a hybrid space. The Cube is a moving sculpture, a choreography of gaze, a performance of space, in which the point of view of the spectator and their relationship to the viewed constantly shift without them ever leaving the spot they are standing in.

Trailer filmed at Oerol Festival 2018

A video projected onto the back wall of the location functions as a virtual extension of that same room. The virtual space slowly transforms through a series of very slow cross-fades, bringing weather conditions, spectacular natural landscapes and animals into the standardized white cube. The virtual space reflects onto the physical space in the eye of the viewer, blurring the border between the physical and digital space, creating a continuum of space and gaze, making the entire space fluid and porous.

The installation is based on a series of paradoxes. The scale of a vast landscape or a snail is modified to fit into the same white cube so everything is either too big or too small for their actual size. The mountain is a miniature in the extension of this space whereas the snail is a giant. As they cross fade one into another, the implication of their size in relationship to the viewer’s, as they stand in the same room with them, is transformed too.

The room itself does not remain unchanged by the forces it contains but breaks open the walls, so that, in the opposite movement of bringing outside spaces in, the visitor finds themselves, with the white cube they are standing in, on top of a mountain or in a huge aquarium. The organic matter of the nature brought into the room is combined with the inorganic matter of the architectural space. This way, the architectural space normally perceived as static or fixed acquires properties of the organic and behaves as an organism itself.

The viewer standing in the space becomes part of the organism, both through their physical presence in the work and the inner movement of the gaze and attention and the experience this movement evokes. The paradoxical motion of the space becomes affective – the spaces are seemingly impossible and invoked artificially but feel nevertheless real and familiar, like somewhere we used to know but have forgotten.

The Cube draws the viewer’s attention and imagination into a double movement combining theatrical and cinematic. One is both here in the all-encompassing space of the white cube (theatrical) and is at the same time drawn into somewhere else, the images of the suggested spaces (cinematic). The very slow cross-fades invite the viewer into deeply immersive states while underlining the actual room at the same time. One’s gaze and experience of the rooms shifts between these two poles, zooming in and out at the same time, distancing and immersing in one movement, translating the experience of these spatial arrangements into an internalised motion of affect. One is in the space here and now and at the same time, one is drawn into another space. Inside becomes outside becomes inside.

This internal movement of attention produces a sense of suspended presence that becomes affective. Working with the double movement of attention, The Cube gives the visitor time and space to re-claim one’s own agency over their attention, otherwise hijacked by regimes that guide it into focusing on portions of the world to be owned or consumed or won over or bombarding it with images in rapid succession. Instead, the work stretches and suspends time and space, proposing practicing attention to the whole field and oneself in it at the same time.

Produced by TILT. Made possible with the financial contribution of the Mondriaan Fund, Bundeskanzleramt Österreich and the Amsterdam Art Fund. Supported by the Vienna Art Foundation.

- Premiere: Kunstraum am Schauplatz, Vienna Art Foundation (AT), 2015
- SPRING Festival, Hekmanfoyer Stadsschouwburg, Utrecht (NL), 2016
- Weesperzijde Filmfestival, Spectra Studio, Marci Panis, Amsterdam (NL), 2017
- Spectra Salon: The Cube, the Salon and the Aquarium, Spectra Studio, Marci Panis, Amsterdam (NL), 2017
- Expeditions, Oerol Festival, Terschelling (NL), 2018

Fragment of the installation: The Cube at Vienna Art Foundation, 2015

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