The Harz is the northernmost low mountain range in Germany. It is the first major elevation if you move from the coast to the south. Due to the climatic conditions, especially the strong winds, the peak of the highest mountain, the Brocken, is almost completely treeless. The timberline is only a thousand meters. Perhaps for these reasons, the Harz has often been mystically transfigured over the centuries. For the German Romantics it was the place of longing for pure nature. The poet Heinrich Heine called the Brocken „German“. Travel guides see the Harz mountains as a heartland of German identity. Due to its location in the geographical centre of Germany, the region was indeed often part of political and social developments. In the Middle Ages, witch trials were held in many places in the Harz Mountains. During the Second World War, the „Harz Fortress“ was proclaimed, which had to be defended against the Allies. During the Cold War, the inner-German border ran through the Harz and large parts became restricted areas. In the Harz, the paths of German history cross and open the perspective for the fragile construct of cultural unity.
The ongoing project #Harz approaches the cultural area by building an archive. Images of different origins are collected, indexed with the help of Google Vision and fed into an online system. Subjective selection and systematic mapping with the help of an artificial intelligence merge into the fragmentary design of a region, whose individual parts intersect and touch each other in endless rows. Assertions are made and negated. In addition to photographs, the archive contains excerpts from articles in the local daily newspaper. The corresponding images were used to keyword the texts, but are not visible themselves. Images and texts are presented as arbitrary fragments of reality, whose different composition constantly creates new contexts of meaning and questions the idea of cultural identity as a homogenous and tangible concept.
#Harz examines the geographical center of Germany as the identity-forming fixed point of a nation and questions the information potential of image recognition algorithms with regard to multilayered and complex contexts.
The archive can be found online at harzbilder.tim-bruns.de
The resulting archive serves as the basis for various forms of exhibition, which also examine the medium for its documentary character and are in a constant state of flux, building on each other and seemingly deconstructing previous concepts.