The truth of objects: is it weirder than science fiction?
Russian photographer Vlad Korneev's sculptures provide an eerie environment throughout the 10 rooms of his Designaoptikum allowing us two options: The first is as an art gallery casually soaking up the visual ensembles, the second is to use your brain by thinking and learning about the collection of objects housed within.
Some insight curiosity, some are unsettling but all have at least once provided some function. As intimidating as some of these look, there are no weapons in the museum, it is up to our own imaginations how we perceive them, and the structures Vlad has created make them unfamiliar, providing them with a new identity. He describes it as similar to Frankenstein's laboratory. To give you an idea, imagine of what kind of companions you might construct in your solitary survival of an apocalyptic event trapped inside the basement of an old department store.
Many of the scariest looking devices were actually designed and built to help people, from learning how to resuscitate an accident victim to actually having a machine like an iron lung to breath for you for your entire life. As Vlad had said there are no objects intended to cause pain or destruction in his museum, but the huge metal box he had as an example of the treatment for polio was made after the First World War when Germany had nothing other than weapons so an iron lung was made from submarine parts.
During this visit to Berlin I also found myself inside the Museum of Medical History. This is not for the faint-hearted or those with a weak stomach (there were jars containing both of these) and I found myself in need of a stiff drink and some fresh air from my encounter here. There were no gimmicks or sensational presentations, just human specimens, historical facts and the real-life stories of individuals thus having a deeper effect than any Oscar nominated weepie or late night teen gore-fest. And the largest display of gallstones you will ever see.
Although unable to take photos in the Medical Museum I found the text from the introduction significant for both collections so I have included it here with my images from the Designpanoptokum.
"Objects generate effects. They may be just standing in a room, be obstacles in the way or displayed in a showcase. Their sheer presence, their explicit 'thingness" evokes feelings in the viewer. If we want to learn more about the objects, we usually need additional information about their inventors, producers, users, applied materials, age or distribution. The stories deriving from them may be manifold. Frequently, however these stories remain undetected or undiscovered."
"Sometimes the objects fall into oblivion, lying in the dark corners of a museum's depot. The objects do not grant the curators a consultation hour. Nevertheless, we could interact with them further. They are sharp, colourful, fragile, pretty to look at, common, unique, useful, used, or unwieldy. "
"For a long time, only the respective museum curators were interested in these stories. To follow their own research and interests they developed an individual 'thing' expertise. Other people, however, would be able to tell quite different stories. Partly because of this, more and more researchers beyond the museum world have turned to historical objects in recent times. They ask: what is our relationship with these things? What meaning do they have in our culture?"
Here's the Designpanoptikum Museum if you want to see it all for yourself! Torstraße 201, 10115 Berlin, Germany