A hero’s journey "Into the Dark Woods" – an exhibition entices visitors into a fairy-tale forest filled with light and shade

From 10.04.2019 in the GRIMM WORLD Kassel

18 powerful projectors, numerous loudspeakers and some 1.5 km of cable transform 330 square metres of exhibition area into a walk-in fairy-tale forest: Wednesday 10.04.2019 sees the opening of the new exhibition experience »Into the Dark Woods« in the GRIMM WORLD Kassel. The multi-media installation takes visitors on a fairy-tale hero’s journey in which they play a part. A special highlight: the exhibition requires neither language nor real exhibits, and can be understood across all languages and cultures.

Once you have crossed the threshold and ventured »Into the Dark Woods«, you will soon be lost in the fairy-tale maze of light and shade between the trees – just like Little Red Riding Hood was, once upon a time. This forest is a living thing which grows and meanders this way and that, drawing the visitor in deeper and deeper to fall under its enchantment. The path to the magic clearing is inhabited by mysterious figures that show us what is slumbering in the depths of our soul: the multi-media installation takes us, the visitors, on our very own fairy-tale hero’s journey.


»The exhibition is all about transformation, because characters or objects in fairy tales are very rarely what they seem«, says Mirko Zapp, the exhibition curator. Appropriately enough, a will o’ the wisp lights the way through the pitch blackness. Trees, bushes, caves, and even a waterfall feeding a stream line the path, but the exhibition changes constantly: creatures and objects loom up and disappear again, sometimes it is stormy or rainy, and then the moon shines down from a clear sky. In the centre, the visitor reaches the magic clearing: five huge standing stones form a kind of mythical ritual temple. »In fairy tales, transformations often represent the inner transformation undergone by their protagonists«, Mirko Zapp goes on. »The clearing turns visitors into fairy-tale heroes or heroines who experience how it feels to undergo such an adventure – alone in the dark woods, exposed to the elements, surrounded by darkness and unearthly figures. Needless to say, everything ends well – just like a typical fairy tale.«

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

  • ©GRIMMWELT, foto: Nils Klinger

The production studio URBANSCREEN from Bremen has designed a video sequence that works in exactly the same associative manner as the surrounding forest – although these are real video images. Narration takes a back seat in favour of a more immersive experience in which the visitor is exposed to a whirlwind of images that surround him on a projection area of more than 40 square metres. The sequence contains many allusions – some direct, some hidden – to fairy tales, but the most intriguing thing, according to Mirko Zapp, is: »It is just as effective if you don’t know or recognise any of the tales. The exhibition works without any previous knowledge, and actually works best if you do not try to rationalise everything«. In fact, »Into the Dark Woods« does not present individual fairy tales, instead providing associations and fragments of archetypal narratives which enable visitors to experience their own stories.

It took 300 hours to render the sequences, and the resulting production restarts every 20 minutes. As the exhibition narration is non-linear, visitors can join at any time. If you want to see every individual sequence all the way through, you will need more than three hours. The highlight of the immersive production is that the exhibition is accessible without mediation or interpretation, regardless of linguistic or cultural background.  »For the first time ever, GRIMM WORLD is staging a purely digital exhibition - ›Into the Dark Woods‹. This opens up various possibilities: as the exhibition does without speech as an information medium, the experience is intuitive – and accessible to visitors of all ages, regardless of linguistic or cultural background«, says Peter Stohler, Director and Programme Head of GRIMM WORLD.

»Into the Dark Woods« was composed by URBANSCREEN, a production studio for interdisciplinary media art from Bremen. The studio is renowned for its immersive installations. »Creating a digital forest was a really exciting challenge for us, as designers and from a technical point of view«, says Majo Ussat, Managing Director at URBANSCREEN. »In order to make an aesthetically pleasing, living forest grow mainly from printed characters, we developed our own dynamic algorithm, consisting of design elements, typography and self-generating animations.«

URBANSCREEN has more than ten years of experience in the implementation of complex media productions, and has already illuminated a number of buildings, including the Sydney Opera House, the Rice University in Houston, Texas, or the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Hamburg. 
VISION TOOLS from Hamburg is the exhibition’s technical partner.

The »Into the Dark Woods« team of the GRIMM WORLD:

Producer: Peter Stohler

Peter Stohler has been Director of the GRIMM WORLD since the beginning of this year and is also responsible as programme manager for its programmatic orientation. He comes from Switzerland, studied art and film studies in Zurich, Amsterdam and London, followed by further training in cultural management. As representative for cultural affairs at the Department of Culture in the Canton Basel-Stadt from 2007 to 2013, he promoted projects of art, film, video art, photography and music. Before that, he was curator and director at several museums and art spaces in Zurich, Altdorf and Geneva. Before coming to the GRIMM WORLD, he had been director and senior curator at the Kunst(Zeug)Haus Rapperswil-Jona since 2013, directly on Lake Zurich. He is the author and publisher of numerous publications on contemporary art, photography and design.

Curator: Mirko Zapp
Mirko Zapp developed the idea and concept of the »Into the Dark Woods« exhibition and is responsible for it as curator. He has organised numerous exhibitions, especially in the field of photography, and exhibited his own works. He studied political science and history in Göttingen and worked subsequently for two of the largest German foundations, for example as programme, campaign or department manager in the areas of communication, culture, education and society. He also worked as a journalist, was the author of numerous articles and wrote and blogged for stern.de and other media. In 2017 he moved to Kassel and has since been responsible for communications at the GRIMM WORLD Kassel.

Coordination & Design: Manuela Greipel
Manuela Greipel has been responsible for the design at the GRIMM WORLD Kassel since 2015 and also designed the promotion material for »Into the Dark Woods« and she was responsible for the coordination of the exhibition set-up. She studied visual communication at the Kunsthochschule (School of Art and Design) in Kassel and takes the responsibility for international and interdisciplinary projects in Germany and abroad. She works in the areas of cultural and corporate communication as well as in the fields of design and spatial communication, typography and graphic/editorial design.

Mediation: Julia Ronge
Administration: Lucija Gudlin, Timo Vogt
Technology: Rolf Tonhäuser
Press, public relations and marketing: Mirko Zapp

The »Into the Dark Woods« team of URBANSCREEN:

Production: Majo Ussat
Majo Ussat worked as a freelance artist and as assistant director to Gustav Gisiger. As brand development manager for the media company Studio100, he produced television formats and radio plays. In 2000 he founded the event marketing agency JOKMOK. He has been with URBANSCREEN since 2011, where he initially worked as production manager and business development consultant; in 2017 he became one of the two managing directors. Here he has already directed several award-winning major productions, among others in the Gasometer Oberhausen or at the Luminale in Frankfurt. Most recently, he was with URBANSCREEN in the USA in connection with the opening ceremony of the Goethe Institut’s "Deutschlandjahr” / Year of German-American Friendship.

Creative Director: Till Botterweck
Till Botterweck is a graduate architectural engineer and worked as a set designer and video artist for choreographers and directors such as Samir Akika, Michael Talke and Urs Dietrich. In 2006 he was one of the co-founders of URBANSCREEN. Since then, as Art Director he has staged projects at the Sydney Opera House, the Gasometer in Oberhausen and the Karlsruhe Palace.

Concept, direction, dramaturgy: Justin Koch
Justin Koch is a media artist, filmmaker and author. Since studying at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG), he produces artistic short films or music videos and writes screenplays for feature films and series. He designs commercials for various agencies, which he also produces as director. He has worked together with URBANSCREEN since 2018 on spatial installations and artistic works in the field of projection mapping.

Art direction: Julian Hölscher
Julian Hölscher has a design diploma from the University of the Arts in Bremen. He works as a graphic designer for various design offices and as a freelance graphic and motion designer. His work includes large-scale video mapping, stage sets, sculptures and medial façade designs. Julian joined URBANSCREEN in 2012 and has participated in numerous international projects, including the illumination of Rice University in Houston and the Luxembourg Light Festival. In addition, he continues to work freelance for other clients and holds lectures on design.

3D artist & 3D software engineering: Jonas Schell
Jonas Schell uses algorithms to create aesthetic worlds. This combination of computer science and artistic expression is also reflected in his career. After graduating from the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf (B.Eng.), Jonas studied digital media at the Drexel University in Philadelphia with the help of a Fulbright Scholarship. He obtained his Master of Arts in Digital Media in 2018 at the University of the Arts in Bremen. After many years as a freelance co-operator, Jonas joined URBANSCREEN at the end of 2018.

Motion Graphic Design, Schnitt: José Buendía
Motion Graphic Design: Ana Cristino Romão, Eike Buff, Lukas Neumann
Technical construction: Armin Jakob
Sound design: Janis E. Müller
Press, Public relations: Lydia Liedtke

Press contact GRIMM WORLD Kassel:

Mirko Zapp
T +49.561.59861913 | mirko.zapp(at)grimmwelt.de
Weinbergstraße 21, 34117 Kassel | www.grimmwelt.de

Press contact URBANSCREEN:

Lydia Liedtke
T  + 49.421.4607440 | lydia.liedtke(at)urbanscreen.com
Alte Schnapsfabrik, Am Deich 86, 28199 Bremen | www.urbanscreen.com