In other words, Hans Peter Schwarz’s 1992 initiative to create a Medienmuseum as a contemplative cornerstone of the ZKM is still very relevant today, in my view, for the very reason that it was pointedly dedicated to the world of ideas, not the world of things.11 For it tried to avoid the display of media technological rarities and the well-trodden paths of canonical progress in favour of a new-style museum which, on the dividing line between the tendencies of our time, would use a 1:1 line-up of our reality and our image of that reality, so that the myth of looking, the intensity of seeing and the quality of our gaze would be exposed. Thus, for the ﬁrst time a possible theory of scenography emerged within my ﬁeld of vision in which the contours of traditional museum display would be widened and understood as a narrative environment, the staging of which would be dominated by an
idea and would yield the potential of ‘a myriad’ of parallel stories, in a place that was charged with energy and that, like a battery, was only waiting to electrify ‘a myriad’ of visitors simultaneously.12 In other words, an orientation emerged that was both Utopian and pragmatic; for the challenge may have been a dream, but its mission was very concrete, calling for a strategy that would stress the opposition between the relativism of the ambition and the intended openness of the end result on the one hand, and the complexity of the task on the other. Nothing seemed more exciting, more relevant, more radical, at the time than to have all mental and imaginative power turn into an ‘ideal’ concept that, with some subversive aid from outside, would explode like a cluster bomb and scatter its fragments of meaning across a whole ﬁeld waiting to be minutely scrutinised in search of that one, ultimate semantic fractal with the expressive potential to transform into an exhibition. Having said that, it’s important to note that even the preceding impulse, which resulted from the research conducted by the Camini Foundation in Amsterdam in 1989 into the experimental development of exhibitions as an open format, is still relevant today as an act of transdisciplinarity.13 Altogether, both the discourse of the Camini Foundation as well as the development of the ZKM Medienmuseum provided the root concepts for the Scenographical Design course that I later set up and developed in Zurich when I was invited to do so by the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, and that made the curricular project of ‘scenography’ function as an interdisciplinary germ, connecting and absorbing like a parasite the idea that drama and exhibition, performance and installation would form one ﬁeld of expertise and imagination, albeit a differentiated one, that would launch an all-out search for a place of identity, dedicated to an idea, and produce a new élan and a narrative environment of a pluralistic order.14 So, in other words, the conceptual nucleus of the Scenographical Design curriculum became the basis of the Narrative Environments research project that focused on the practice of the exhibition maker and as such intended to release him from his cultural isolation, while at the same time promoting a transdisciplinary approach for formulating an open theory of scenography that would sensibly reconcile thing and thought, fact and effect, and mythos and logos.15 So noted in the present book.