We are collecting images for an illustrated version of Georg Büchner's novella Lenz. We invite you to participate by taking a photo with your camera obscura. If you are unable to use this site, please just email us your image at email@example.com.
The installation ‘Lenz’ is inspired by the novella of the same name by playwright and poet Georg Büchner. The book is a highly fictionalized account of a harrowing period in the life of the Sturm-und-Drang playwright J.M.R. Lenz, both a case study of a mental illness and an ecstatic journey through a mind gripped by madness.
“Müdigkeit spürte er keine, nur war es ihm manchmal unangenehm, daß er nicht auf dem Kopf gehn konnte.”
Following a brief, romantic description of the protagonist’s journey through the Vosges mountains, this strange sentence is the very first indication that Lenz’s way of organizing his experience is completely opposite the ordinary. In the installation, viewers first encounter this quote printed upside-down on a large sign in front of the Forest House. They may then enter a room of the house that has been transformed into a camera obscura, a viewing technology well-known in Büchner’s time. Inside, due to light coming through a lens mounted in the wall, they will be able to see the exterior scene projected upside down, with the quote on the sign then appearing right side up, like a subtitle to the inverted landscape.
Visitors to the installation will be given their own handheld camera obscura devices. They can use these in conjunction with digital or cellphone cameras to take photos which will be paired with phrases from Lenz and sent to Next Question for posting on our website. This part of the project will map the transformative vocabulary of Lenz onto the contemporary landscape.