Photos: Jule Roehr and Stephan Pramme

“Open Closed Open” is a multimedia installation that explores a multitude of perceptualpositions realized as a result of the continual movement of organic materials. Sand, lightand human voice are shaped by a layer of technological interventions that imposevarying degrees of control and predetermined roles upon both themselves and theresulting response of the materials.

The title of the work is excerpted from a poem by Yehuda Amichai reflecting on the cycle of formation and deformation of individuals and groups in terms of their self-definition in general, and of the Jewish identity in particular. The Hebrew language appears in the mediums of writing and sound in both permanent and temporary manners, fragmented into individual letters or assembled into words — writing andrewriting themselves in space.

Each individual who enters into the exhibition space contributes to the work’s evolution. Emerging from a room comprising audio and visual components, visitors findthemselves in the midst of a large sandbox where a robot continuously reforms the terrain while driving over and writing Hebrew letters in the sand. Custom-made tools arescattered around the sandbox, which the visitors are invited to use to reform and flatten the terrain, preparing further surfaces for the robot’s calligraphic activities. Hundreds audio recordings of vocalized Hebrew letters comprise the generative and electronically shaped soundtrack. Each vocal fragment has been composed individually, yet thesegestural materials converge in continuously varying densities, forming a rich, ever-changing soundscape projected over 10 speakers in the space. Depending on theirmovement, visitors may hear a single whispering voice or an assemblage of vocal gestures. A live visualization of visitors’ movements inside the sandbox is projected on a large, transparent screen hung at the back of the space. This animated representation reflects the movement and interactions in the exhibition and, along with the robotic and audio components, offers a stylized perspective on the social relations occurring between individuals and within groups.

Berlin-based artists Liat Grayver, Amir Shpilman and Yair Kira were awarded the first DAGESH Art Prize for the creation of “Open, Closed, Open”.

*Yehuda Amichai’s “I Wasn’t One of the Six Million: And What Is My Life Span? Open ClosedOpen” was published in a collection of his poems titled Open, Closed, Open. Schocken Publishing House Ltd. Tel Aviv, 1998.


This work was created with the support, input and contributions of several individuals andinstitutions. The artists would kindly like to acknowledge the following:
Robot technical support, programming and design: So Kanno, Naoto Hieda and Ahmad Taleb.
Singers: Mima Millo (Soprano), Cornelius Uhle (baritone), Galil Jamal (bass-baritone), Bojan Heyn (bass)
Sound programming and artistic consultation: João Pais
Loudspeaker design: Andreas Kakogiannis
Motion-Tracking and visualization: Casa Paganini | InfoMus, Vertigo STARTS
Audio recording: Studio für Elektronische Musik | Hochschule für Musik Dresden

For financial and technical support we are grateful to ELES Studienwerk, the Jewish Museum Berlin, Freundeskreis des Jüdisches Museums Berlin, Center of Excellence “CulturalFoundations of Social Integration” at the University of Konstanz, Makeblock Europe B.V.,Solectric GmbH, and Ensemble Mosaik Berlin.

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