Public Face Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus, Richard Wilhelmer

The first project, in November 2018, will involve the installation on Kibbelsteg Bridge of a sculpture entitled „Public Face“ by artists Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus and Richard Wilhelmer. The seven-metre tall smiley face made of steel and neon tubes is designed to reflect people’s collective mood in the district by looking sad, angry, surprised – or indeed smiley. Sited on the oldest bridge connecting the city centre, the old warehouse district and HafenCity, the figure will be visible from afar to pedestrians, from the U-Bahn metro trains, and from street traffic, particularly in the evening hours and at night.

The Smiley’s particular mood is based on the facial expressions of passers-by as captured by the CCTV cameras in HafenCity. A software program sends the captured data in real time to the apparatus mechanism without actually storing the data. An algorithm developed by the artists translates the data into a specific emotion that cannot be influenced either by individuals or by personal dispositions. In this way the „Public Face“ shifts the perception of one’s own personal state onto the collective mood of other people in the surrounding area, thereby potentially contributing to the community spirit. It also serves to draw attention to the CCTV surveillance equipment that literally has its eye on the public space in many places.

Originally created in 2010 as a temporary installation for the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour at Lindau on Lake Constance, the „Public Face“ has recently been showcased with various themes in Vienna, Stuttgart and Jonköping in Sweden. For HafenCity, the artists have taken the prototype to the next level, reworking it with the support of local companies and re-launching it for its particular new location. Manufactured and assembled in Harburg, the structured is to be shipped across the water to the Kibbelsteg Bridge and then hoisted into place by a crane. There it will showcase HafenCity as a cultural venue for at least one year, in its own unmistakable way.

The curator and artists are grateful to the companies EHS beratende Ingenieure für Bauwesen, Hochtief Infrastructure GmbH Deutschland Nord and Fr. Holst (GmbH & Co. KG) for sponsoring the project and to Landesbetrieb Strassen, Brücken und Gewässer (LSBG) in Hamburg and Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) for its support.

Julius von Bismarck (* 1983 in Breisach am Rhein) studied visual communication at the Berlin University of the Arts, where he was a master student of Ólafur Elíasson at his Institute for Spatial Experiments and took part in the Hunter College MFA Program in New York.
In his interdisciplinary works he explores people’s perceptual habits and applies scientific methodologies to question our notions of space from unusual perspectives. For instance he spent around a week on a rotating concrete dish and transferred a freshwater goldfish to the ice-cold sea water of Antarctica. More recently, he focused on the construction of nature and natural catastrophes in works such as „Talking to Thunder“ (2017) and „Irma to Come in Earnest“ (2017).
His work has received numerous awards, including the Golden Nica Award (2008), the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN (2011), and the Wolfsburg Art Prize (2017).

Benjamin Maus (* 1984 in Geislingen an der Steige) is an inventor and artist. He regularly teaches at art academies and colleges such as the Berlin University of the Arts, the Hochschule Düsseldorf, and the University of the Arts Bremen.
From an early age he taught himself how to dismantle and program all manner of machines. His knowledge in numerous fields such as computer science, mechanics and physics combined with his interest in the social significance of modern production methods form the basis of his artistic work. He likes to focus on new developments such as industrial automation and on obsolete technologies as well as the ideas and hopes associated with each.
His „Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus“ (together with Julius von Bismarck, 2009) for instance composes potentially infinite visual stories based on patent drawings dating back to 1790. Another machine, „Jller“ (together with Prokop Bartoníček, 2015), classifies thousands of pebbles from the eponymous river, based on their geological age.

Richard Wilhelmer (* 1983 in Judenburg, Austria) studied art and media at the Berlin University of the Arts and obtained a scholarship as part of the MFA Program for Directors at the California Institute of the Arts.
Wilhelmer is creative director and managing director of Beluga Strategic Design GmbH in Berlin, of which he is a co-founder. His daily exploration of socio-cultural trends, technological change and economic forces regularly gives rise to freelance works in the visual and performing arts as well as the film sector.
His latest documentary film entitled „Anomalie“ looks at common notions of normality with regard to the human psyche; it is scheduled to launch nationwide in Austrian cinemas in February 2019. „Anomalie“ premiered at the Diagonale – Festival of Austrian Film in Graz in 2018 and is to be screened at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival (2018) and the This Human World Festival in Vienna (2018).
Other current works include the installation „Fake Star“ (with Julius von Bismarck and Benjamin Maus, 2018) and the experimental short film „Hypnodrom“, which was shown at international film festivals in 2017 and 2018.

Date 23 November 2018 - 23 November 2019
Location Kibbelstegbrücke,
20457 Hamburg
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Julius von Bismarck
Benjamin Maus
Richard Wilhelmer