More Than »Flat Paper«

Today, almost two years after the website was launched in July 2012, Zvonimir Marčić, web-designer and former Solitude fellow, and Angela Butterstein, Public Relations Coordinator of the Akademie, finish the last edition. To represent a network of 1.210 international fellows from 11 disciplines was a real challenge. But using his artistic and architectural knowledge, looking at the website as a »space rather than a flat paper,« helped Zvonimir to find a visualization, which was beyond everyone’s imagination.

»I’m already panicking.«

»I’m also panicking. Let’s panic together.«

Angela and Zvonimir have been working on the Akademie Schloss Solitude’s website for the past three years. Today they are testing and finetuning the third edition and they are very close to the end – hence, the panic.
When Zvonimir first started his fellowship through the cooperation with the Osteuropäisches Netzwerk in 2009 he was mainly working on performative videos »exploring the body and how it is positioned in space, in the city, within urban or within natural surrounding.« By this time the artist had already abandoned the field of architecture realizing that working for large companies contradicted his utopian idea of the architecture’s social and supportive role within society and urban spaces.

Looking at his latest project – the Akademie’s website – it is obvious though that Zvonimirs architectural knowledge plays just as an important role as his skills in digital arts and web design. The relation of subject and space, or even the positioning of subject in space, has not only been explored in videos and installations but is also the starting point for the design of the website. »It’s about how to present the material that you have. Huge databases and all the information are related somehow; now, how can I represent that material looking at the website as a space (that is the architect in me I guess) rather than a flat paper like a graphic designer would maybe do.« What Zvonimir is hinting at with this comment is of course the Network feature which enables the user to reveil connections between artists or any other information given. When sorting the Network by disciplines and researching music fellows, for instance, it shows how much they are connected within their own discipline and allows further conclusions. It shows what is behind the lists.

To speak with Angela Buttersteins words: »The Network is something we never dared to imagine! Even though it has been a long-standing dream of director Jean-Baptiste Joly to establish the website as a virtual pendant to the Akademie’s reality, Zvonimir’s artistic and complex realization of this idea was something completely beyond our imagination.« The public relations coordinator of the Akademie is lastly the one responsible for the maintenance and updating. The website functions as an archive and database, it connects, interacts and of course it advertises and spreads the name of the Akademie Schloss Solitude and its fellows. »By doing all this it represents the spirit of the Akademie perfectly,« she says. The way she describes a ping pong game of mutual inspiration between her and Zvonimir correlates perfectly with the artists idea of the development process: exploring and playing with the structures and composition of content which will then create an unexpected outcome. »Controlled randomness,« Zvonimir calls this and admits a challenging CMS. »It’s very hard to simplify, but keep the complexity behind.«
The need to simplify has to do with one of the innovations of this third – and maybe last – website edition: The Fellow Pages (working title – suggestions welcome!) open a new way of interaction and participation. Former and current fellows of the Akademie Schloss Solitude will be given the opportunity to edit their biography, upload videos, texts and this way individualize their personal appearance on the website. It’s a risky project and – just as Zvonimir likes it – noone knows for sure what the outcome will be, how fellows will use this offer, in what way they will participate.

Zvonimir has transfered these ideas to his other works – website projects, but also his art. »I found finally what should be the focus in my art and that is the relation of the content inside. I’m not so interested in the content itself, it’s more the structure.«

In March and April 2014, Zvonimir returned to the Akademie for the fourth time in order to finish his work (if a website can ever be finished). »It’s very calm. It’s Solitude!«, he happily grins.

Zvonimir Marčić and Angela Butterstein are staring at the screen – bewildered, amazed and sometimes confused.

»Why is it gone?«
»I don’t know.«
»That’s a problem, Zvoni!«
»That’s not a problem. It’s just a deal.«


Text by Daniela Leykam