The site-specific installation transports the beginnings of European intellectual and scientific history to a place in which forward-thinking research and knowledge transfer—a new building at the Pharma and Diagnostics Centre Roche Penzberg. The kinetic artwork is suspended in the naturally lit atrium, that serves as a central space for interaction and communication and links offices, meeting rooms and laboratories.
Raphael’s Pendulum addresses the advancement of understanding while simultaneously referring to pioneering achievements of the past. The starting point for the art installation is the “School of Athens“, one of the most famous paintings by Raphael and of the high renaissance. It is a holistic picture about gaining understanding. In the center of the historic painting we see Platon and Aristoteles who laid the foundations for humanities, natural sciences, ethics and politics. Further philosophers, mathematicians, physicians and astronomers from the ancient to the Renaissance period are portrayed next to them. The painting shows the possibilities of gaining knowledge: thinking, writing, painting, reading, discussing, listening, teaching and learning.
In a kinetic choreography, a pendulum swings across the virtual painting, which is stretched invisibly across the atrium, making it visible piece by piece. The first swing of the pendulum moves to Raphael’s self-portrait at the right side of the picture. Then, after a another swing, the screen pauses at a different figure. The sequence of the pendulum swings and the figures highlighted correlate to their greatest facial similarity to Raphael. The pendulum focusses on 21 personalities of the 58 people portrayed and swings over nearly the whole picture.
The pendulum moves across a plane that spans a height of 18 meters, four building floors and a width of almost 13 meters. The depicted, ideal architecture of the Renaissance and the contemporary, clear architecture of the building enter into a dialogue.