Both a sculpture and a Virtual Reality experience, N1-Observatory questions the integration and use of digital and infrastructural technologies in the natural alpine landscape.
It is exhibited for the first time at the top of Schlüchtli (2283m) as part of Art Safiental, a Land Art and Environmental Art biennale in Grisons (CH) from the 18th of July 2020 to the 1st of November 2020. The biennale is showing work from Nancy Baker Cahill (US), James Bridle (UK), Melodie Mousset (FR/CH), Manuel Rossner (DE) among others.
Made out of galvanized steel, photovoltaic panels and mylar fabric, the installation is a contemporary replica of the iconic pyramids standing on several Swiss mountain summits. Some of its features are also borrowed from a lunar module.
The artwork acts as an augmented observatory : visitors are able to discover the digitized alpine landscape in a point cloud aesthetic through the lenses of the virtual reality headset. This landscape is transformed in real time according to ever changing climatic variations recorded by a small weather station installed at the top of the sculpture. Additionally, the virtual experience allows the visitors to visualize the surroundings antennas and weather stations as well as the networks of invisible electromagnetic waves in the area (in particular the controversial 5G).Unlike most immersive virtual reality experiences, which tend to isolate the viewer from his or her sensory environment, N1-Observatory recreates a tangible link with it, by placing visitor at the mercy of the weather to enhance sensory perceptions such as the heat of the sun on our skin, the wind on our face or less perceptible elements such as atmospheric pressure.
By getting visitors to wear a helmet and experience virtual reality in a stunning mountainous region, the installation invite them to embrace absurdity. The sculpture also welcomes USB power plugs that ironically allow hikers to charge their mobile phones at an altitude of 2283m.