A lecture on prominent forms

Carmen Arias


In "A Lecture on Prominent Forms" the building of the ticket office is transformed into the headquarters of the fictive "Interpretation and Translation centre for Pseudotectonic Acoustics” (Interpretations- und Übersetzungszentrum für Pseudotektonische Akustik (IÜPA)), where a machine supposedly measures the underground frequencies of its surroundings and translates them into sounds that the human ear can perceive as phonemes, syllables and words.

The suggested existence of such a machine created the necessary fictional context for the transmission of "A Lecture on Prominent Forms”, a text written as if its author and speaker was the Olympic Mountain itself. In this lecture, the Mountain dives into the landscape of the Olympic Park using it as a practical scenario for a critical analysis of the social and political role of the so called “Prominent Form”; a new-invented term that englobes predominantly high vertical structures in the landscape. From neolithic tumulus to the modern skyscraper, the Prominent Form is a symbol of human victory against gravity, a monument to vertical hierarchy and man-kind power. The Olympic Mountain, by being a Schuttberg– an artificial mountain made out of rubble, specially provenient from germans cities after WWII- is a Prominent Form itself and therefore an expert on the topic.

During the exhibition the public was invited to peek in through the windows of the building in order to find various mysterious objects that hint at the function of the above mentioned machine. Once closer to the counter windows, one could also distinguish some intelligible sounds coming out of the building. Meanwhile, the pseudo-tectonic sounds that are apparently captured by a network of sensors underneath the park are transmitted into the ticket office – now IÜPA- and simultaneously translated into human voice. Namely, into a spoken version of the text "A Lecture on Prominent Forms" played through the megaphones of the building in German, English and Spanish.

During opening hours, the public is invited to peek inside the building to find various mysterious objects that hint at the function of such a machine. Meanwhile, a simultaneous translation of the pseudo-tectonic sounds into human voice is played through the megaphones of the center, after being captured by a network of sensors located under the park.

Speakers: Elias Allgeier, Santiago Archila, Carmen Arias, Miriam Enssel, Nils Norman, Essi Pellika

Photographic documentation: Alex Jeskulke

About the artist

Carmen Arias (*1999 Santander, Spain) works with sculpture, performance, and graphic techniques. In 2021 she graduated in Fine Arts by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Since 2019 she has enrolled the sculpture class of Hermann Pitz at the Akademie der bildenden Künste München.

She usually works through research-based projects, where she question different aspects of the urban landscape. Especially the limits of the public space in western cities and the influence that architecture exerts on the inhabitants and actions it harbours.

Moreover, her latest works have reflected on the idea of the city as a vertical landscape divided in layers. Layers that imply respectively different connotations for those who inhabit or transit them, showing the existence of a non-metaphorical vertical hierarchy. Carmen often presents these research topics in the form of performative essays or by the reproduction and alienation of functional elements of the urban landscape.