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•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Dhwani ShanghviPublished on : Mar 03, 2023
The earliest documented literature on the Czech city of Zlín can be traced back to 1322, when it was accrued by Queen Elizabeth Richeza. This erstwhile market town hosted craft guilds, at the time, for the surrounding area of Moravian Wallachia. Through successive centuries, the city experienced interim periods of prosperity and misfortune, and in the 18th century, its economy was restored with the introduction of large industrial enterprises. Its claim to fame, however, is Tomáš Baťa’s Bata Company, to which it owes its biggest expansion, becoming the seat of the administrative district in 1935.
Following German occupation in the Second World War, both the city and the company became unstable. Today, the city has established itself as an administrative, economic, educational, and cultural centre of eastern Moravia. The Mirrors of Zlín is an immersive exhibition recording the past 700 years of the city’s history and heritage.
Designed by Studio Loom on the Moon, the design exhibition is located in the now disengaged chateau park, on the site of the Zlín Castle. A series of multimedia installations is sprawled across an area of 36,000 sqm on the historic castle’s park—titled Encyclodepdia, Imerse, and Statements. While the former two are conceived as long-term exhibits, the latter is a permanent exhibit.
Enclyclopedia, located to the south of the castle, is a curved wooden wall displaying historical perspectives laid out by Czech writer Pavel Kosatík, whose work focuses on the modern history of Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The 40 m long wall meanders around existing trees on the site, creating an internal space, which allows the users to experience the display on its concave plywood interior surface, while on the exterior a mirror—a polished steel sheet, clads it. A combination of illustrations and texts highlight significant events in Czech history through a sequential timeline, creating a dialogue between different moments in history.
Across this first installation, Imerse is a screen facing the southern façade of the castle. Displaying a series of painted animations, it represents a zoomed-in catalogue of the city's history with a range of comparative lenses—across different periods, seasons, and lights.
Additionally, it features transformative developments through the course of the city’s inception—the Bata Boom, the introduction of the railways, significant instances of rural life etc. The resultant film is a collection of paintings, each of which forms singular frames for the film.
Like Encyclopedia, Imerse is built as a plywood skeleton, whose inner side (facing the former) is lined with mirror-polish steel sheet, while the side facing the castle acts as the screen for display.
Statements is dispersed across the park on the north side of the castle, as a constellation of amoebic mirrored surfaces, interspersed among the trees, alluding to puddles of water. The ground-hugging mirrored platforms reflect the tree tops, changing skies and passers-by, while simultaneously celebrating the cycle of time through the sound composition it plays.
The sound installation is an auditory manifestation of solar anomalies and patterns—like changing seasons, lengths of day and night, solstices and equinoxes—derived by mapping the sound of bells in the belfries of the region, which in turn, toll in sync with the solar calendar that encompasses the patterns and anomalies.
Beneath the light-weight mirrored plates, a concealed speaker rings the musical composition, made to sound like vibrations of the bell bronze, while LED lighting components accentuate the surfaces with a warm yellow light at night, from the underside. The integration of the three components: mirrors, sound and light—creates an abstract and ethereal map of the movement of the sun and stars of the Zlín region, and therefore its existence is confined to the place and time it inhabits.
The series of three exhibits that constitutes the Mirrors of Zlín is thus a record of place, time, and transformation that not only engages its users in an immersive understanding of the city’s history but also revives the hitherto abandoned park it occupies.
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