Tape is ideal for making webs, like a spider does

Katzler designer interviewed by adhesive tape afera

Christoph Katzler (1968) was born in Vienna. With Nikola Radeljković and Sven Jonke he is a founding member of Numen/ForUse, a Croatian-Austrian design collective that consists of three branches: installations, set design for theatre and furniture design. “We were all very much into designing furniture, which we still do, but we turned our focus on configuring concepts without any predefined functions, which for example has led to an experimental but very successful tape installation.”

When did you decide to change your focus?

“We started with industrial design. Under the banner of ForUse, we designed for esteemed companies such as Cappellini, Desalto, Interlübke, mdf Italia, Moroso, and Zanotta. At a certain point in time we decided to begin experimenting with theatre set concepts using special creations and to develop those further without any aim or purpose and without knowing what we would end up with. We didn’t change from one day to another. It is a gradual process. We still do design and set design, but also these installations.”

How did the tape project start?

“In 2009, a Spanish dance choreographer asked us to design a set for his next performance in Vienna. We came up with a theme, a structure, and the idea to put a lot of pillars on stage. This would enable the performers to dance between pillars, stretching tape while they moved, thus creating a shape that merely became a (tape) recording of the choreography. As designers we wanted to take this concept away from set design, make models and see what kind of shapes would occur if we kept on adding layers of tape. To start with, the tendons of multiple layers of conventional transparent adhesive tape were stretched in between a construction. The following continuous wrapping of tendons resulted in a complex, amorphous surface. We discovered that these almost organic forms and shapes were emerging and growing almost automatically, but we did not know beforehand that this would be the result. Furthermore, it is a simple working method, which can easily be compared with 3D software, which allows you to do specific shapes, like balls or cubes, and nothing else.”

Why adhesive tape?

“I had been doing a project with a friend, an artist, who used tape, and I saw potential in this material. Tape sticks, which makes it a very stable and strong material, ideal for making webs like a spider does: each thread glued to the other. That way we were able to get difficult and complicated shapes, almost automatically. We used transparent adhesive tape, because it looks more like a natural material and not like some prefabricated skin-architecture. By the way, we used nothing but tape.”

There have been many tape installations since the first one in Vienna. Will you continue to develop them?
“The first one wasn’t actually meant for Vienna; it was merely a set design that developed into a tape installation. Since then there have been tape installations in, among other cities, Melbourne, Paris, Hasselt, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Berlin, Stockholm, and Örebro, The full 19 metres stretch of the Fed Square's Western Terrace in Melbourne was the greatest span traversed by a tape installation thus far. The latest installation, July to October 2015 in Innsbruck, Austria, was Tube, a new installation concept constructed of stitched safety nets which

 assume a form of a closed hose that pulsates and oscillates in the longitudinal section. The object was suspended from surrounding surfaces with numerous elastic strings, channelling a giant convulsing centipede. Tube's irregular geometry defined by varying dispositions of support strings makes it a perfect parasite - universally adaptable to new contexts and spaces.” 

More information: www.numen.eu

Picture collage: Christoph Katzler (left) with Nikola Radeljković and Sven Jonke. Photo: Aurélie Cenno; Set design developed into tape installation: Vienna 2009; The greatest span traversed by a ta installation: Vienna 2011

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