World Improvement Machine (Volume 2)

The Reconstruction of an abstract Imagination, 2013

Friedrich von Borries, Moritz Ahlert, Jens-Uwe Fischer (Eds.)
Merve Verlag, Berlin, 2013
IMD 401 B
232 pages, paperback, 17 x 12 cm
ISBN: 978-3-88396-344-0 / German


Since the 17th century secret plans have existed in the various European metropoleis, which described the scheme of constructing a machine to improve the world. Most of these ideas were based on the idea that artworks and artefacts could be combined – in the right order presumably – into an architectural superstructure that would then release a mighty force. This idea stimulated absolutistic megalomania as well as enlightening world improvement demands. The construction of the machine, so the historical position, shall be the joint role of the arts and the sciences.

The Prussian State didn’t want to fall behind in the European competition and, to ensure that this wouldn’t happen, founded the Academy of the Arts (1696), the Academy of the Sciences (1700), later the Royal Museums of Berlin (1830). The academies were focused on scientific and artistic research, the museums hunted for and collected the »components« believed to be of essential value to the world improvement machine. By the end of the 19th century the long-time project seemed to have failed and, consequently filed away as a secret project, soon forgotten.

The first volume of this research project »The Berlin World Improvement Machine« reconstructs a historical account of the initial project, whilst the second volume documents a critical attempt at reconstructing the world improvement machine, which will be exhibited in summer 2013 in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art – Berlin and 15 other Berlin Museums.