Art and Caves

Installations in the Dachstein caves

Humans made their mark in the form of artwork in these caves thousands of years ago, overwhelmed by the natural showcase of this mysterious location. Visitors to the Dachstein caves have been able to explore the artwork of young artists from the University of Art in Linz (space & design strategy) for the last few years. 

The experience of these untold spaces is brought to life in a special way using contemporary, not just Stone Age, techniques. We would like to describe some of the projects in detail by way of an example – although the actual experience cannot be adequately described in words or images: how better to experience light and sound than on-site, in conjunction with nature?

Mammuthöhle / Mammut Cave

La Linea

La Linea Höhlenscan Laser Installation, 2006
Dachstein Mammut Cave
Georg Brunader, Johannes Dichtinger, Harald Freudenthaler 

This project is not about accessing the old system of the Dachstein which dates back thousands of years, but rather working with what exists now – the cave and its stone surface. A laser beam which swivels 180 degrees highlights the surface of the Mammut Cave. The figures which emerge as a result of the moving beam on the wall are reminiscent of the cartoon characters of Italian cartoonist Osvaldo Cavandoli: the light installation takes its name from the big-nosed whinging cartoon character ‘La Linea’.

Mammuthöhle / Mammut Cave

Incidences of light

Light Incidences shadow installation, 2006
Where: Dachstein Mammut Cave
Artist: Judith Moser 

The entire cave area is altered through the apparent emergence a ‘Gothic church window’ in the form of light. Initially only perceptible as a distant shimmer, visitors are suddenly presented with a window which opens unexpectedly onto the outside (the Dachstein massif is thereby ‘de-materialised’) and the rock massifs above the caves disappear.

In reality, this is simply an interplay of light and shade which creates the impression of a sacred space and evokes a strong sense of the gentle frisson of the gloomy, cool and somewhat eerie inner space. Bizarre objects made from aluminium sheets or wire create shadows in places which cannot be explained by the shape of the objects but which are reminiscent of early cave paintings – this time made visible on the cave walls using modern-day techniques.

Koppenbrüllerhöhle / Koppenbrüller Cave

Rain Drum

Rain Drum acoustic installation, 2007
Where: Koppenbrüller Cave
Artist: Pepi Maier

A drum positioned on high stilt-like supports is situated in the Koppenbrüller Cave at a location where water is dripping from the cave ceiling. The droplets fall onto the pelt of the drum and generate a rhythmic beat. The Koppenbrüller Cave is a water-bearing cave in the Dachstein area. The object attracts the attention of visitors to the dropping of the water – water which has penetrated the mountain over an extensive period of time to emerge at this point from the cave ceiling. Water is the shaping element of caves. The rhythmic beat is indicative of the passing of time. The drum and supports are made from CrNi steel. The pelt is made from a water-proof plastic.