Liquid Time II (1993)
Plessi, Fabrizio

collection ZKM / Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe / Museum of Contemporary Art

‘Liquid Time II’ (1993) is an upright iron wheel reaching a height of more than five meters and turning slowly above a long steel tank with water running through it. The set is that of a rusty mill wheel yet the water we would expect to find in each of the 21 scoops is replaced by a TV set showing video footage of cascading water. The heavy steel structure consists of more than 100 elements, not to mention a few hundred metric screws. Five main elements build the central water tank. Element N 5 is surrounded by a base (8 meters long and 4 meters wide) and carrying the upright mill wheel, which is composed of 7 segments. All visible steel parts are artificially rusted and show a mat and delicate surface. A strong electric engine with a gearbox drives the turning mill wheel by a chain. The steel tank contains water, which is moved through an open gutter by an electric water pump. The single channel video installation runs from laserdisc. The video equipment includes 21 TV sets mounted in the mill wheel.
The light in the exhibition space is dimmed and the ambience is filled with the sound of rushing water.

‘Tempo Liquido’ is a concept that Plessi has pursued since the 1970s. The work in the collection of ZKM ultimately derives from an installation ‘Tempo Liquido’ first shown in 1989 at the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato, Italy. In this first version, painted in grey colour, the wheel was placed between two high steel walls and visitors could cross the water channel by means of a small bridge.

The element of water in video films is one of the most peculiar and therefore most significant elements of Plessi’s work.
‘There is a profound analogy between the two elements: water is the ancient element, ancestral, original. Video is an element of today, linked to our exited and telematic lives. () for many years now I have thought of these two only apparently different elements as being practically mutually osmotic, or better, as living a secret life full of undisclosed complicity. ()
This merely apparent ‘clash’ between such different materials, this continuous, ‘impossible cohabitation’ between the poverty of the natural and the iridescent richness of the technological material have given birth, and continue to give birth to, a host of various projects Water and video () have been the obsessive constant of a whole series of operations ’ (Fabrizio Plessi in: catalogue Museum Ludwig, Köln 1993)

‘Liquid Time II’ was realized as a freestanding sculpture in 1993 for the Internationale Funkausstellung IFA 93 in Berlin. This monumental, kinetic video artwork became an outstanding piece of the ZKM collection and after two other presentations (1993 and 1997) it was reinstalled at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe in 2004.
An extensive documentation has been collated in close collaboration of technicians, conservators and curators of the museum and external experts. The experience gained through the long-term presentation of the work has lead to general conservation strategies and a maintenance plan to preserve the artwork for the future.

PHOTO Franz Wamhof

568 x 390 x 1776 cm
216/97