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Search for Truth: TU Wien’s library building marks its 30th anniversary

TU Wien will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of its library building with a light, space and sound installation opening on 13 November. The centrepiece for the installation will be the distinctive owl on the library building on Wiedner Hauptstraße.

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© Fabian Dembski

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From 5 p.m. on 13 November, a light display will illuminate Bruno Weber’s owl sculpture that perches on the TU Wien library building (Resselgasse 4, corner of Wiedner Hauptstraße, 1040 Vienna, Austria). The brainchild of architect and concept artist Fabian Dembski, the installation Suche nach Wahrheit (Search for Truth) seeks to create a link between the heterotopian space of the library and its surroundings. As a repository of knowledge and a place of learning, the University Library of TU Wien promotes the search for truth.

Founded in 1815, it is now the largest technical and scientific specialist library in Austria and has been housed in the building famous for its owl sculpture at the gateway to Vienna’s fourth district since 1987. The library is home to around 1.5 million media units, the majority of which are available in digital format. Up-to-date printed media is categorised according to subject area and kept in open zones that are directly accessible during extended opening hours (now including Sundays). With its wide range of high-quality services, from the ongoing acquisition of media through to extensive advisory services and expert assistance with publications, the University Library plays a part in fostering excellent conditions for research, study and teaching, all while promoting knowledge transfer from TU Wien to society at large. Library Director Beate Guba explains the motivation behind the project: "Since Bruno Weber’s owl was originally supposed to be a colourful piece, we wanted to illuminate it in bright colours to mark the building’s anniversary. As a scientific library, it felt natural to us to use images from research for this project – in doing so, we have created a visual spectacle that unites the concepts of knowledge production and the library as a knowledge hub, and creates a link between a physical location and a digital object."

Light, space and sound installation

The owl sculpture, a symbol of wisdom and scholarship, evokes the style of fantastic realism with its distinctively quirky and much-criticised aesthetic. Over the years, it has become a symbol of TU Wien and, thanks to its prominent location, an orientation point for people navigating the city. On the occasion of the University Library building’s 30th anniversary, the owl is to spend a month acting as a ‘transponder’ between the knowledge contained within the building and the urban space around it, including the library’s users. Scientific images spanning everything from atoms to outer space will be used to bring the stone owl to life. These images have an abstract feel and a beauty that represents a further aspect of science. Meanwhile, they also function as visual ‘magnets’ that can draw the eye from a great distance. Equally, the projections represent the interface between the interior and the exterior, the library building and its surroundings, reason and emotion – while also symbolising the human element. "The search for truth leads us to marvel at the astounding beauty of the images we encounter. These depictions help us to visualise complex phenomena and better understand scientific findings, drive forward research, seek out and pass on knowledge, and take another step on our perpetual journey towards the truth," says Fabian Dembski, describing his concept.
Around the mirrored projection tower, music by Austrian-Taiwanese composer Shih will be played. The Truth, an excerpt from his orchestral piece Die Trennung (The Separation), will bring an aural dimension to the installation.

From 13 November 2017 – 09 December 2017, dayly 17:00 - 23:00
TU Wien University Libray, Resselgasse 4, Ecke Wiedner Hauptstraße, 1040 Vienna

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Further information:
Mag. Beate Guba MSc
Technische Universität Wien
Resselgasse 4, 1040 Wien
T: +43-1-58801-44079

Bettina Kunnert, MAS
Büro für Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Technische Universität Wien
M: +43 664 484 50 28
T +43-1-58801-41024

Image: © Fabian Dembski