Photography Playground: A Social Net Work

“OMD,” (Oh My Deity) I said to myself as I tried to make sense of the giant netted bird cage before me. “Is this real life?” It was the excited seven-year-old in me talking. I was standing in front of “Net: Berlin,” the latest installation by the design collective Numen / For Use. Since 1998, this trio composed of Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljkovic has been playing with art and space in the fields of scenography, industrial/spatial design and conceptual art. It comes as no surprise, then, that Olympus, the sponsor of “OM-D: Photography Playground,” would call upon this creative, award-winning trio to form part of this “space and art” themed exhibition.

The exhibition in itself is something to behold: the work of twelve international artists—each with their own interactive installation—is spread throughout three floors of the majestically spacious Opernwerkstätten. Curated by Leigh Sachwitz, this month-long exhibition promises to be interactive on various levels: not only will each of the twelve works be participatory in nature, but visitors will also be able to borrow an Olympus OM-D camera (for free) to record their own experience throughout their journey in and around the art of the space.

Too anxious and excited to wait until the doors opened this Friday, my seven-year-old self visited the Opernwerkstätten to chat (and play) with one third of Numen / For Use, Christoph Katzler, about their exciting contribution to the space.

A Network of Associations

Once in conversation with Christoph, what I initially considered a giant bird cage proved to be much more. He tells me that the idea for the first net developed a year and a half ago in Hasselt, Belgium when considering an easier––and more fun––way of visiting a neighbor in the enclosed backyards of multi-story apartments (check out their Net Z33 for a visual).

One of the most enticing characteristics of this project is its ability to capture the imagination from both inside and outside its perimeters. From the outside, a poet would probably claim, “It is definitely a bird cage. The people inside are birds, the laughter their song of those who are perhaps unaware of their captivity—or perhaps too aware, so that all there is left to do is sing.”

Numen / For Use's "Net: Berlin" appearing as a giant birdcage from the outside. Photo: Chris Phillips

A theoretical physicist, on the other hand, might claim, “Undoubtedly, it is a model influenced by the time-space curvature found in gravitational fields. In this instance, we are able to see the gravitational force our bodies create on the landscape as we move through time and space.”