+42.60 is an artistic reading of an architectural project by Lucas Gutierrez and Robert Lippok. Digital artist Lucas Gutierrez and sound artist Robert Lippok imagine further mutations and transformations of a tower that used to house the former GDR graphite factory, EB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg. Parts of this building complex have already been transformed by the architect Arno Brandlhuber in collaboration with Georg Diez, Nikolai von Rosen, and Christopher Roth. Their project San Gimignano Lichtenberg converts the remaining industrial towers into studios to generate an architectural catalyst for the surrounding urban fabric.


— Space in Space

Text by Natalie Koerner published by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Mutations journal, edited by Clara Jo. 

Graphite in Space

Apparently, graphite has a greasy feel. Greasy like billions of years of history, whose traces you cannot quite wash off. Graphite is literally used in lubricants. It’s one of the three most ancient minerals in the universe. Far beyond our temporal horizon, graphite emerged from the explosion cloud of a supernova or from the discarded outer layers of near-death, small- to average-sized stars. Then at some point it must have been swirling about in a giant interstellar molecular cloud out of which, following gravitational collapse, our solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago. During the Big Bang and its aftermath, graphite made its way onto Planet Earth, and more recently settled into pencils and electrodes. Under high pressure and exposure to heat, the mineral transforms into diamond. So, if some of the epic energy events that shaped our planet had mutated in slightly alternate ways, our (now) blue planet might have been – or maybe it is still becoming – a sparkling one. Or, thinking in the opposite direction of minimum pressure, it might have been an interstellar cloud.

Space like waterfall

Now the soundscape changes and begins to rush through the void like a waterfall. Spatially, this tower could contain a waterfall. Around forty meters is also the height of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at Singapore airport, the Rain Vortex. It looks like a rain hurricane stopped in its tracks, forced to stand still. The space taken up by a waterfall is as inaccessible as a void (or an empty tower), unless
you can defy gravity, like a salmon with its unstoppable reproduction instincts. For the salmon, the river is a kind of extended threshold: the ocean at one end, and at the other, the place where the salmon hatched, will spawn, and will die. It’s not a threshold that begins in one place and ends in another. Instead, it’s rather like a loop.

Similarly, as I am immersing myself further in the digital tower, I am guided along several loops–up- and downward, past coils of neon light, through foliage, and into a grassy patch with thin long leaves that emerge from the black bottom of the void in looping squiggles.

Space like a ghost

There it is, the tower object, closed up and complete, as if it were finished and final. Just like the beech leaves we encountered on our way down through the void, which were absolute and sealed, in contrast to the permeable point cloud perimeters. The tower’s inner life of light tails, surreally tall beech trees and grass breaking through mossy rock, now seems like an imaginary memory. From this new distant view, the tower might be like a ghost coagulating around a point cloud of phantom graphite particles, workers, political realities, objects we no longer know, and unimaginable energy events billions of years ago. Some of these traces leave persistent marks, like graphite powder that nestles firmly into the finest pores.