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folds of time"

 by Helen Starr


Memory Practices in Public Space

2024, transcript Verlag





Helen Starr on the work of Mikala Hyldig Dal:

“The connection between Deleuze's fold concept and the Mikala Hyldig Dal’s time-travelling artwork lies in their mutual emphasis on embracing diverse perspectives and engaging with the intricacies of lived experiences of the past and present. Monuments – an Augmented Reality app – introduces us to time-travelling as a means to navigate and comprehend various social and cultural realities, their synchronisation and merging with and from each other. This involves moving across different cultural frameworks, adopting varying subjectivities and ways of existence. It encourages individuals to step beyond their own viewpoints and empathetically interact with others' perspectives. Integrating the notions of folding space-time and historical recurrence, such as return to matriarchal societies. This underscores the brain's role in perceiving time, history, and reality. These concepts propose that the brain doesn't just passively absorb linear temporal information but actively grapples with intricate folds of time, interpreting recurring historical patterns, and thereby contributing to the construction of personal and collective realities –out of which new cultural concepts can emerge.

Thus, in 2023 through the technology of Augmented Reality, Monuments becomes a totemical addition to The Bismarck Memorial, manifesting another poetic reality. The Bismarck Memorial is dedicated to Prince Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire. To go back to the beginning of Bismarck-time is to understand that Prince Otto von Bismarck was best known for the unification of Germany in 1871 and he was also the architect of the “Congo-conference” of 1884, which divided the African continent into zones for colonial exploitation. This memorial in Berlin portrays Bismarck in his ceremonial garb as Chancellor standing above statues of Atlas, showing Germany's world power status at the end of the 19th century, Siegfried, forging a sword to show Germany's strong industrial and military might, a sibyl reclining on a sphinx and reading the book of history. And horrifically, the metaphorical Goddess Germania crushing a giant, writhing Leopard underfoot as she gazes into the distance. Within the physical symbolism of the Bismarck statue, we find the reality of enacted violence in this cruel artistic gesture. Even in a state of decay, these forms carved in stone retain their beauty. The perception of a monument's beauty is heavily influenced by cultural norms and societal values, and this subjective response is often moulded by the prevailing historical, cultural, and social circumstances of a society.

These visceral symbols aged in weathered stone echo the transformative themes represented in the augmented reality intervention of the animated Mother Goddess in Monuments. But where we sense the joy of dance in the augmented intervention, we simultaneously sense colonial violence through the display of the crushing touch of Germania’s foot. Diametrically opposite emotions at odds with each other are simultaneously felt through realities which exist in parallel space-time. When The Bismarck Memorial was unveiled in 1901, the Leopard men were active in striking fear across large swathes of Africa. Rebelling against the unfairness of European quotas, between 1890 and 1940 they morphed into an epistemological category that represented a Robin Hood type banditry that threatened the colonial order. Answering to their own chieftains, the Leopard men came to represent a resistance movement, disrupting the normative structures and unsettling the very foundations that upheld Germanic supremacy.


The ability of this communal AR artwork to animate time travelling to help us engage with the prehistory worlds of the Mother Goddess disrupts not only spatial perception but also the linear nature of reality. Including the ideas of folding space-time into discussions about multiple rendered realities emphasises the complex ways in which we perceive time, history, and reality. These concepts propose that we are not merely a passive recipient of linear temporal information but actively engage with the intricate folds of time, interpreting recurring historical patterns, and thus contributing to the construction of individual and collective realities. The distinction lies in whether it's sufficient to merely evoke an earlier time as utopic and reorient towards that imagined future-past. Because without reconfiguring these patterns in a different way and breaking open the poetics of the New, there remains the real risk of repeating the inequity of the colonial past. From 1868 onwards, 250 Bismarck monuments were erected in many parts of the German Empire in a constellation which worlded the very consciousness of the German people. They could all do with the transformational augmented magic of Monuments by Farhan Khalid and Mikala Hyldig Dal.”

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