Venture to the Interior is an installation that investigates the nature of the museum as an apparatus of collecting and cumulative knowledge construction. It was developed in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in Berlin, which served as an example case to study the historic collecting activities as a way of mastering the knowledge of the world. The project is reflecting on the history and principles of the institution of the museum and at the same time questioning the status of the object in our contemporary media culture.
At the origin of the museum is the push for completeness arising out of the desire to know everything. Since the Renaissance a close relationship between knowledge and possession has existed, and the ownership of natural objects was seen as synonymous with knowledge about nature. The lineage of this material culture of knowledge extends until now. Only when an animal ceases to be alive and to escape the grasp of the scientist, when it rests motionless on a shelf, it is possible to say that it found its lasting position in the knowledge system representing nature. The museum object, therefore, is an abstraction. The taxidermy, even though it shares some material aspects with its referent, is a representation. This distinction that is accentuated in the digital era, which replaces the object and its material identity with its numerical representation. In this sense, DNA sequences and ubiquitous databases challenge the notion of the museum and the object.
The project is the attempt to trace this displacement and make it visible. The method of our investigation is a deconstruction of the museum space and its objects. Just as the imagination of the possibility of complete knowledge, the museum is in its roots a virtual space. We are extending this notion to construct a virtual environment following the construction plans of the museum. This space is populated with fragmented representations of objects, deconstructing the role of the object as an epistemic device and identifying it as an object of desire. The objects become tokens of the fate of collectors and explorers, they serve as part of a monument of national pride and as evidence for the development of the scientific discourse. This spatial collage of perspectives reveals itself in the navigation through the virtual space of our project.
Venture to the Interior is a colaboration of Andreas Kratky, Juri Hwang, and Hans Zischler. It was realized with support from the German Federal Cultural Foundation. A DVD-ROM and book of the project has been published by the Alpheus Verlag.
> Project website (German)