German artist Peter Rösel’s works examine points where nature and civilisation intersect. He often juxtaposes the unlikeliest of materials and objects to tease out the absurdity and complexity of this interaction.
Rösel’s exhibit at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, 458.42 m/sec (2014), is a ‘mobile installation for demonstrating the velocity of the Earth’s rotation’. Assembled out of a violin-case in which the artist carries its components, this installation seeks to represent optically the speed at which the Earth’s surface moves through space as it rotates on its axis.
A velocity that increases as we approach the equator, in Kochi this touches a supersonic 458.42 metres per second. It is a dizzying speed, but one that is impossible to perceive as we stand on the Earth’s surface. Rösel, in 458.42 m/sec, helps us visually conceive this planetary movement through a system of wires and ping-pong balls fitted with LED lights. The artist has programmed these in such a way that the bulbs glow periodically, creating a light impulse that travels the length of the arrangement at 458.42 metres per second.
Through this installation that he programmed himself, Rösel brings home an aspect of human existence that we often live oblivious of– the fact that we are all captive travellers aboard a planet hurtling through space at scarcely comprehensible speeds and directions.