words Kieran Long
Spots is the latest project by architecture office Realities United, on Potsdamer Platz in its home city of Berlin.
The huge, low resolution screen was fitted to an empty office building on the south side of the square to attract publicity and a tenant. Currently one of the largest media facades in the world, it consists of 1,800 fluorescent bulbs controlled by computer and hung behind the building’s glass outer skin.
“It is supposed to be up for 18 months, and make people notice the building. It’s on the non-famous side of Potsdamer Platz and it’s shitty architecture,” says Jan Edler, who with his brother Tim founded Realities United in 2000.
The studio is best known for its Bix installation on the facade of Peter Cook’s Kunsthaus in Graz, Austria (2003), a similar screen of circular fluorescent bulbs. For Spots, Realities United used two different types of bulb (ring- and bar-shaped), in a grid tilted at a 30° angle.
Artists such as Terry Gilliam, Carsten Nicolai and Jim Campbell have created pieces for the screen. Edler says: “Our work is independent of the artists’ work. The curator thought we were interfering too much, not having an orthogonal arrangement [of pixels] and not having straight borders. But the challenge to the artists is to work within these special characteristics.”